Spain and Liverpool legend Luis Garcia believes that Indian football can touch global heights if the players are given exposure to different leagues abroad and nourish young talents and coaches methodically.
Garcia, who was part of the ISL title-winning Atletico de Kolkata side in 2014, said giving the Indian footballers a chance to appear in foreign leagues will expand their knowledge bandwidth.
"It is very important because you compete against a different style of football (abroad). If you have to wait for the last stages of a tournament to compete against them, then it is only going to be 1 or 2 games, and they need to compete more often.
"I think it's important that the Indian (national) team travel away during the year, and try to have friendly games in Asia and around. The scoreline doesn't matter as it is about having the feeling of facing a different kind of football," Garcia, who appeared in 77 matches for Liverpool between 2004 and 2007 Premier League seasons, told PTI in Bengaluru on Saturday.
"I know there are a lot of complications in between. You have to pick up where you left it (post Covid days), and it's not easy, but it is the only way (to grow)."
In India to celebrate the three decades of partnership between Carlsberg and Liverpool FC, Garcia said the young Indian footballers should be given the right kind of coaching so as to give them a sound base.
"You play only in India. Yes, during the past few years, there have been a lot of efforts to give the tools to the younger generations.
That's the only way you can have a competitive national team.
"If you want to compete at the highest stages, to qualify for a World Cup, you need to allow the young kids to improve their footballing knowledge," he said.
Garcia, who also played 25 games for Barcelona and 49 for Atletico Madrid in the La Liga, as their winger, said Indian coaches too should keep themselves abreast with latest trends in coaching.
"I think in the first two-three years of the ISL a lot of international coaches arrived in India, and they were always surrounded by the Indian coaches. I think that helped (them) a lot.
"So, you need to bring people or allow them to learn how to coach in the highest standards. I would love to say that this has been happening. But there are a lot of things India can do to improve (level of coaching)," he added.
Garcia hoped that a lot more Indian coaches will travel to Europe to undertake an in-depth study about modern coaching.
"Hopefully, in the coming years, you can see a lot more (Indian) coaches arriving in Europe or to other different places so that they can learn stuff about coaching and then you can take that and bring it to India.
"Then you try to mix it with your own methods, so that players can follow it easily," he signed off.