Livingston frontman Matej Poplatnik has revealed how he was bowled over by the huge crowds in India while playing for a club named in honour of cricket hero Sachin Tendulkar.
The 28-year-old joined Livi last summer after a two-year stint with Kerala Blasters.
The club was previously co-owned by India great Tendulkar, who is known to millions of fans on the sub-continent by his nickname Master Blaster.
And it was his star attraction which saw Kerala become one of the biggest clubs in the Indian Super League, with the Kochi outfit regularly running out in front of over 40,000 screaming fans.
While former Rangers defender Davie Robertson has had to battle against political instability during his spell managing Real Kashmir in the rival I-League, Poplatnik admits it was only the brief nature of the ISL’s five-month season which prompted him to return to Europe.
The Slovenian striker – who has also had stints in his homeland and Bulgaria – said: “I have only good memories of India. I was lucky because I played for one of the biggest teams there.
“The fan base there is amazing. I’m still receiving a lot of messages from the Indian supporters.
“That was the biggest surprise for me because when we arrived for a match, the stadium was full. The fans would be screaming for us.
“It’s such a change because now here in Scotland, OK it’s because of Covid, but we don’t have fans in the stadium.
“But even usually we don’t see the stadium full two hours before the match like in India.
“The record for our stadium in Kochi was 85,000. Our fan base was so big that whenever we went away, it was like a home match because our supporters came out.
“It was amazing. Every player dreams of playing in front of a crowd like that. As a striker, when you scored in those matches, the feeling was amazing.
“It’s hard to get your head round that now but I am a professional and I just have to be focused for Livingston.
“India was one of the best things I’ve experienced in my life.
“I didn’t know what kind of football it would be but I must admit, I was surprised (by the quality).
“The biggest problem over there is the season is too short. They play for only five months and because of that, it’s better to be here in Scotland because you play for a minimum of 10.”
Livi will be hoping it is not long before they confirm their top six place.
They only need a point from their final two games and will hope to get across the line when Hamilton visit on Saturday.
But Poplatnik – who missed out on a place in Davie Martindale’s Betfred Cup final squad through injury – admits confidence may be the main issue behind their six-game run without a win.
He said: “It’s good to be back but of course it was disappointing to miss the final.
“Unfortunately I couldn’t be part of the final – but I’d have preferred to be out of the team and see us win the cup. I was unlucky, maybe next time.
“Maybe confidence is the problem now. When you look back at the start of the season nobody expected we would play 14 matches unbeaten.
“Maybe it’s a little to do with confidence or maybe other teams look at us now in a different way and are preparing for us because most of the time after that run, we were the favourites.”