Fijian wonder-boy Roy Krishna is set to continue his professional career in the Indian Super League – a move he described as coming “full circle”.
The Johnny Warren medalist and Golden Boot winner has signed a 12-month contract with Kolkata-based club ATK, having rejected a a new multi-year deal from the Phoenix, which they claim was the most lucrative they have ever offered a player.
While the destination and length of his contract may come as a surprise, Krishna said he was excited by the chance to play in India, where his ancestors originated before moving to Fiji.
“It was not just about me, it was about my family. My wife, [Naziah Ali], is coming with me. She’s more familiar with the Indian culture and that was also one of the reasons why I chose to go there. Obviously my forefathers came from there 140 years ago so I’m going back after 140 years. I’m excited, I’m happy and I know I’ve made the right decision,” Krishna said.
“I just want to enjoy football and for my wife to enjoy it when she’s with me so I’m not too stressed out. I talked to my family and they were very happy that I was going to India.”
ATK have signed some relatively high-profile attackers in recent years, with Irish international Robbie Keane, Portuguese international Helder Postiga and Spanish international Luis Garcia among their most notable former players.
But while those players moved to India at the end of their careers, Krishna is joining the two-time ISL champions at the peak of his powers. The 31-year-old was the most sought-after player in the A-League with numerous clubs from Australia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Qatar all making formal offers for the Fiji captain on the back of his career-best 19-goal haul.
“It comes down to who values me more and being in the A-League it was just hard. We rejected ATK at the start but they never gave up hope. They never lost hope on my potential and that was the key, they valued me more than any other.”
Although the Phoenix were hopeful of retaining their all-time leading scorer, whose entire professional career has been spent in Wellington, it is understood another A-League club tabled a better deal they did. However, they were also unsuccessful in their pursuit of the speedster, who opted to sign with ATK after rejecting the club’s initial deal a few weeks prior.
“It’s disappointing to leave the Phoenix but that’s part of life and we all have to move on. I just want to wish the club and Ufuk [Talay] all the best for the coming season,” he said.
“The clubs kept coming and I wanted to stay in the A-League but it comes down to who values me more and then I talked to my family and I think ATK was the right club. They valued me more and that’s all I can say.
Krishna said he was grateful for the opportunity the Phoenix gave him and, given the fact he has only signed on for one season, he did not rule out a return to Wellington before he retires.
“I’ve given so much for this league and I’ll keep fighting hard. I’m going to be turning 32 in a few months but hopefully they still believe in me that I have the x-factor and I can still do the job. I’m excited for the new journey but you never know maybe I’ll come back and play but we’ll see.”
Krishna could be joined by some familiar company in India, with ATK close to announcing the signing of his Phoenix strike partner, David Williams.
Like Krishna, Williams turned down a contract extension with the Phoenix to explore other opportunities. He scored 11 goals during the 2018-19 campaign – his second highest return.