By Sena Guler
ANKARA, Turkey (AA) - Bollywood actor and producer John Abraham, who owns Indian football club NorthEast United, has spoken of forging deeper ties with Turkish football.
Players from the Assam-based club are currently in southern Turkey for pre-season training and Abraham, one of India’s best-known faces after starting his career as a model, met Antalya Governor Munir Karaloglu.
Football is a relatively new sport in cricket-mad India and the Indian Super League was founded just four years ago.
Abraham said he hoped his side, who came fifth in the league last season, could learn from Turkey’s clubs and players.
“The league is very new… We are trying to do better. Hopefully Antalya is lucky for us and we do better this year,” he told Karaloglu on Monday.
“You have a very good team. Also, football reaches out to 260 million people [in India].”
Abraham, who spent two months filming in Antalya last year, added: "I’m very happy to be back. I’m hoping to be the face of Antalya in India… I would like to promote sport and culture from India and come here and develop it out here."
Karaloglu stressed the role of sport in creating links between countries and cultures.
NorthEast United are due to play a friendly match with Super Lig side Alanyaspor on Thursday.
The team arrived in Antalya last month and have been spotted playing football on the city’s beaches.
Abraham, who played professionally in the Indian A-Division when he was younger, has previously spoken of his love for the sport.
“Before each NorthEast United home game, and even before some of the away ones, I run one lap of the pitch and I stop before sections of the crowd,” he told U.K. newspaper The Guardian in 2015.
“I throw my arms up and the decibel levels are shattering. The fans are just screaming.”
* Huseyin Kanber contributed to this piece from Antalya