David Platt insists Adrian Mutu will be a success for Pune City in the second season of the Indian Super League (ISL) – despite his controversial past.
The Romanian striker, who has played for top European clubs including Chelsea and Juventus, became the franchise’s latest star signing last week alongside ex-Tottenham midfielder Didier Zakora.
But while Mutu, 36, has always found the back of the net on the field, he is never far away from the headlines for the wrong reasons off it.
In 2004, he was released by Chelsea after receiving a seven-month ban for taking cocaine. Six years later, he was suspended again, this time for nine months, for testing positive for the stimulant Sibutramina while playing for Fiorentina.
He has also been barred from the national team twice for drinking alcohol before a game and criticising coach Vitor Piturca on social media.
Pune coach and ex-England midfield star Platt though believes his chequered past won’t be a problem. “I don’t think anyone of us honestly believes we have not made a mistake in our lives.
“Adrian has experience at the highest level and a professional motivation to succeed,” he said. “I’ve admired him from afar for some years and am very excited at the prospect of us working together for the benefit of Pune City.”
Mutu has scored 35 goals in 77 games for Romania and 164 in 424 club appearances. He said despite coming to the end of his career, he hoped to contribute to the progression of the sport in India after a promising first campaign.
“I don’t feel that old,” he joked. “The commitment of the Pune management to make me part of the club was one of the primary reasons in me joining. This will be one of the biggest challenges of my career and I look forward to it.
“The team has gathered some quality signings from India as well as abroad, and the excellent backroom staff will make us an exciting side.”
The man who won back-to-back Serie A titles in Italy from 2004 to 2006 continued: “The ISL is the best way for Indian talent to be supported and football in the country to be developed.
“The tournament’s popularity will grow once more players from around the world experience it. I am looking forward to helping the young Indian players with my technical knowledge and experience.
“I hope to aid them in becoming better players and coming here to play is not just what I intend to do. If the fans support the players well, the Pune franchise and the rest of the teams will do well.”
Mutu revealed he almost joined Pune last season and felt he could have helped his side improve on their lowly sixth place finish.
He explained: “Due to some bureaucratic hurdles, I couldn’t get the visa on time. I felt even more sad after hearing the impact ISL made in Europe.
“I followed the team last season. I am disappointed because of what I saw happen, with the results and the league position. I promise to rectify it this season and hopefully I can score more goals.”
Crediting former Arsenal and Juve star Platt as one of the reasons for signing on the dotted line, Mutu added: “It’s an honour to play for him. I remember him as one of the biggest players in Serie A; he was one of my favourites.
“It took some time for me to decide (to join). I wanted to be sure about what I am doing. I wanted to look at other opportunities in Europe but finally I decided to go by my heart.”
Pune co-owner Hrithik Roshan was also delighted with his team’s work in the transfer market. “In Mutu and Zokora, we have players with world class experience. I am sure the players will learn a lot from their presence,” he said.
Zokora, 34, is the Ivory Coast’s most capped player, playing 123 matches. As well as Tottenham, he has also had spells with Saint Etienne, Sevilla and Trabzonspor.
“I have played in many countries before and every country has presented a new challenge.
“I am sure this journey to India will be exciting and memorable one for me. I hope I can help my team become champions,” he said.