Anwar Ali - Diego Forlan is the best leader I have played with

Former Mumbai City FC defender Anwar Ali has labelled Uruguayan football legend Diego Forlan as the most inspiring leader he has played with.

The 35-year-old Indian defender, who has 33 caps with the national team, and has represented the likes of JCT, Dempo, Delhi Dynamos, Mohun Bagan, Mumbai FC, East Bengal, ATK and Punjab FC during his illustrious career, interacted with Twitter users and answered their questions on Tuesday. 

He was part of the Mumbai City side that topped the Indian Super League (ISL) league table in 2016, with Forlan playing a key role in making it happen.

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“During both my season at Mumbai City, we had so many leaders in the dressing room. But I think the one that stands out the most is Diego Forlan. Being on the same team and learning so much from him was the best experience in my career so far,” he said.

The centre-back reminisced arguably one of the best campaigns in the team's history and called it his best memory in a Mumbai City shirt. He also named his then-teammate Matias Defederico the best player he has played alongside.

Anwar Ali Mumbai City FC
Anwar Ali Mumbai City FC

“(The best moment) has to be topping the table and making the semifinals in 2016. It was the first semifinal in Mumbai City's history too and that made it even more special for me.

“There were so many (great players) but if I have to pick one, it will be Matias Defederico from our 2016 side,” Anwar responded when asked about the best player he has played with.

A compliment for a striker carries an added weight of credibility when it arrives from a centre-back. Anwar showered ace goal-scorer Odafa Okolie with praise when he named him the toughest player he has played against.

The Nigerian forward was the top-scorer of the I-League for three consecutive seasons between 2007-2010.

“As a defender, we've had a tough time facing strikers. I think the toughest one I have played against in my life was Odafa Okolie,” he said.

The veteran had words of praise for Sandesh Jhingan and expressed his desire to partner the India international defence. Portuguese and former Chennaiyin FC defender Henrique Sereno was another name that popped up.

Among the youngsters, it was Sarthak Golui and Sumit Rathi who were recipients of encouraging words from the Punjab defender.

“Among the Indians, Sandesh Jhingan. And Lucian Goian from the foreigners,” he replied when asked about his favourite defender in the ISL.

“(I would like to play with) Sandesh Jhingan - we played together at United Sikkim, it was when he was very young. It would be nice to play with him now. (Also) Henrique Sereno - he's a top-class defender, very experienced & well-respected world over and I would've liked to play alongside him too.

“Sarthak (Golui) is definitely one (player who has impressed). If I have to pick outside of Mumbai, Sumit Rathi from ATK,” he concluded.

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