India's national team goalkeeper Subrata Paul, who has been offered a six-month contract by Danish top tier club FC Vestsjaelland, feels players must try and play overseas to improve their skills and get a feel of big clubs.
Paul, the first Indian set to join a first division side in Europe, had a month-long trial with the club in October and is waiting for his visa to join the Danish club by this weekend.
"Our players need to get a taste of football overseas, not necessarily the European clubs. For instance, the Japanese J League and the Korean league are top class and playing there would be a great experience," Paul told IANS.
"Playing in India is not enough, our players must get a feel of the sport in other major leagues around the world. The experience will help us compete with tougher opponents us," said Paul.
Paul thinks skills-wise Indians are as good as any in the world, what they lack is the big-built physique of their European counterparts.
"We have a lot of talent and potential. When it comes to technical ability we can compete but we lose out on the body build," he said.
The former Mohun Bagan and East Bengal goalkeeper is optimistic of figuring in the first eleven.
"After my trial, the club's coach and goalkeeping coach were impressed by my performance. They assured me that I would get to play in the first division matches if I did well in practice matches.
"It has been my dream to play in the European league and the time I get to spend with the players and coaches there will only help me to improve my game," he said.
Talking about his lack of inches when compared with the taller European goalkeepers, Paul said:"I'm only 6ft-1in while my counterparts in Europe are all well above 6ft. So competing against them will surely get the best out of me."
For Paul, the buck doesn't stop at FC Vestsjaelland. By giving good performances at the Danish club, the 27-year-old aims to play for some other big clubs in Europe.
"I hope I do well here and my performance gets noticed by top clubs in Spain and England -- that is my main aim." said Paul
Paul, who has made 67 appearances for the national team, has had trials with Major League Soccer (MLS) side Vancouver Whitecaps in 2010 and with a German fourth division club, RB Leipzig, in 2012.
On India getting to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup, Paul said: "As an Indian footballer I feel very proud. This is the biggest step forward for our players, they get to face the likes of Brazil and Spain, what a dream come true!
"Not only the infrastructure will improve, but it will also give the youngsters the confidence and experience of playing against the world's best," said Paul.