"We will bring in our management expertise and work towards a common goal to enhance the level of football in India. We have already embarked upon this journey and will help design a series of growth models relating to sports, commercial opportunities, marketing and communication."
Kolkata, July 7 - Former Spain international Luis Garcia will be the marquee player of Atletico de Kolkata in the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL), the franchise announced Monday.

Garcia will team up with compatriot and ex-Getafe midfielder Borja Fernandez, who will be the second foreigner in the ranks of the club which is partly owned by La Liga champions Atletico Madrid.

The 36-year-old attacking midfielder, who had two stints with Atletico Madrid besides plying his trade for another Spanish giant Bercelona and Premier League club Liverpool, had announced his retirement in January. Over the past few years, he has been playing in Mexico and Greece.

He had his best years with Liverpool, winning the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and the FA Cup.

Garcia, who was not present at the media meet organised in West Bengal's temporary state secretariat Nabanna, tweeted that he was very excited at the new development.

I'm very excited to share with you my new challenge. I've decided to join Atletico de Kolkata, he tweeted.

Fernandez had last week similarly announced that he would join the ISL franchise.

The club also announced Antonio Lopez Habas as its head coach.

During a glittering coaching career spanning over 20 years, Habas has been manager of the Bolivian national team, besides guiding clubs like Sporting Gijon and Valencia. His coaching stints cover over 400 matches across Spain, Bolivia and South Africa.

The ISL in its maiden edition is scheduled to run for two months beginning September. It features eight city-based franchises.

Former Indian cricketer Sourav Ganguly, who is one of the co-owners of Atletico de Kolkata, said the team would epitomise core Bengali values and philosophy.

It will provide the platform to nurture the raw talent available all across this state which produced some of the country's best footballers in the past. We will strive to showcase the finest quality of football synonymous to an iconic club like Atletico de Madrid, Ganguly said after state chief minister Mamata Banerjee unveiled the team brand logo and jersey.

Ganguly said though the ISL season would be over in around two months, the franchise will be active in its initiatives round the year.

Along with the Government of West Bengal, our initiative will continue throughout the year and draw up an extensive grass-root programme to discover and nurture talent.

Banerjee said her government will support the new club in developing infrastructure at par with international standards. She also promised to help the club's grass-root development programme.

Atletico Madrid's Director of Corporate Development Ignacio Aguillo said the Spanish club will lend management expertise.

We will bring in our management expertise and work towards a common goal to enhance the level of football in India. We have already embarked upon this journey and will help design a series of growth models relating to sports, commercial opportunities, marketing and communication.

Besides Ganguly and Atletico Madrid, industrialists Harshavardhan Neotia and Sanjiv Goenka and merchant banking and financial services expert Utsav Parekh hold stakes in the Kolkata franchise.


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