London: Indian Super League has been a hit as far as the initial matches are concerned and the biggest endorsement for the ambitious project has come from none other than Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who has no doubts about ISL's impending success. (Also Read: I-League Gets Priority Over ISL From FIFA, AIFF)
Wenger said he was pretty much sure that the profile of football in India will come up because of the ISL and that it will be able to compete with cricket in future.
"I know that people there (in India) watch the Premier League and I'm convinced that with such a huge population, it (ISL) will take off," Wenger said.
While cricket is comfortably the most popular sport in India, Wenger said he was convinced that there was still space for football to grow.
"If you look at the history of football, it has always become quicker and it looks like it grows everywhere. It's like a virus that multiplies, so I don't imagine that it won't take off.
"It (football) took a while in the United States but it's now very popular. It faces cricket in India but there's always room for a second sport. There's only really badminton and cricket in India at the moment but there's room for another sport," he was quoted as saying by 'Arsenal Magazine'. (ISL Will Help Cricket-Crazy Country, Says FIFA)
Five former Gunners are part of the tournament in Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, Nicolas Anelka, Mikel Silvestre and Andre Santos, and Wenger said ISL offers a great opportunity for older players to extend their careers.
"Being completely at the top finishes when you are 34 at the latest. After that, you have different leagues like the MLS and the Indian Super League. I encourage players to play as long as possible if they really love it. Pires is 40 but he still plays and when he comes to training here, he's still very good.
"The only thing I always say is that once you're on the pitch, you give your best. Your age doesn't matter - people can understand that you're not as quick at 40 as you were at 30. Play with passion, with your heart and technical quality - that will be enough.
"They give a good image of the game. They can make football popular on different continents and in different countries, where it's taking off. I think it's fantastic."