CHENNAI: It’s been a long journey back home for Kean Lewis. Despite being only 24, his Wikipedia profile looks like so many of the international journeymen he plays with in the Indian Super League.
Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, Houston Dynamo U-23 and Laredo Heat, followed by Mohun Bagan and Delhi Dynamos. But after a draft where he was much sought after — Pune City picked him up early and declined an instant trade from Atletico de Kolkata — the Thane-born player will finally play in his home state, nearly a decade after he exited Mahindra United’s youth system.
Lewis broke out playing for Delhi Dynamos last year, the speedy winger ending up as second-highest Indian scorer in the league. He turned up for Mohun Bagan in the I-League but wasn’t able to make much of a mark, featuring only sporadically in an injury-hit season.
The momentum that he lost in the six months following the ISL is something that he hopes to recapture. “The style of play was different with Mohun Bagan and Sanjoy Sen,” he says. “With Delhi Dynamos, they needed someone fast on the wings and that played to my strengths. We did a lot of positional work in Delhi and that improved my game a lot. I hope Pune will be another good learning experience for me.”
Given his displays last year, it was a surprise Dynamos chose not to retain him. But Lewis says an attempt was made. The parties however could not arrive at an agreement. “They were interested in retaining me and opened discussions,” he says. “But the salary they offered was too low and we could not reach an agreement. There was another team that was interested early on, but once it became clear that a draft was going to happen, it was just a matter of waiting to find out who was going to pick you.”
It might be a new club and a new coach for Lewis, but the set-up will not be entirely unfamiliar for him. Likely joining him at Pune will be Marcelinho with whom he had forged a lethal partnership for Dynamos last season. Between them, the duo had 14 goals and 7 assists last season. The club are yet to confirm Marcelinho’s capture though. “If Marcelinho does sign for Pune, it will be a great thing for me,” Lewis says. “He is somebody I have played alongside and he is a great player as well.”
And while Lewis wants to win the ISL and do well in the process like everyone else, he is hoping to capture Stephen Constantine’s attention as well. “This is an important year with the team likely to qualify for the Asian Cup as well. I hope I can do well and force my way into the national team.”