By Dipak Patel
SWAPPING the hysteria of the inaugural Indian Premier League with a gritty League Two relegation dog-fight is perhaps not the brightest of career moves.
But Iain Hume is back at Tranmere almost a decade after leaving Prenton Park and hoping to be named a “hero” for the second time in less than a year by helping the club retain their Football League status.
The Canadian striker spent the best part of 2014 playing for David James’ Kerala Blasters and scored five goals on the way to the play-off final, where they were beaten by Atletico de Kolkata at a packed DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai.
Hume’s exploits saw him crowned ‘Hero of the League’, usurping illustrious counterparts such as Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet, but the 31-year-old returned to England last month to slightly less fanfare.
And after an unforgettable experience in front of swarms of screaming spectators in Asia, his goal now is to help Rovers – the club he spent the first six years of his playing career with – and their long-suffering fans avoid the dreaded drop to the Conference.
“I have experienced both ends of the spectrum,” said Hume, part of the Doncaster squad that won the League One title in 2013.
“The highs of being promoted and the lows of being relegated over the last 15 years, and I think that experience will prove invaluable as the season progresses.
“After playing in England for the majority of my career it was a massive step for me to go to India, even at my age. The hardest part about it was being away from my family.
“It was an opportunity that I’m extremely happy I took, and I would definitely like to go back out there at some point in my career.
“The people out there are unbelievable. There is so much love in that country and it’s heartwarming because you are out there on your own and strangers treat you like you are a part of their family.
“It was a group of people that I was fortunate to play with and the area I lived in, Kochi, love their football.
“The fans, in particular, were incredible. The lowest attendance we had was 40,000 and we had upwards of 75,000 in some games.
“That is one of the reasons they started this league because they realised there was huge interest in football, and they wanted to get India up on to the world stage.
“Staying at home tends to appeal to most players but if the offer comes along then you should give it serious consideration, do your research and find out, because you may end up enjoying it.”
Hume has signed a six-month deal and hopes to replicate the form that saw Leicester part with £500,000 to end his first spell with Tranmere.
Manager Micky Adams and chairman Mark Palios – the former FA chief executive – were key to convincing Hume to come ‘home’ to Birkenhead, though the Edinburgh-born star admits he needed little arm-twisting.
“They added to the feelings I already have about the club,” Hume said. “Everything they told me about the direction of the club, their aims and objectives, and how they planned to change things to benefit the club.
“The way they conveyed their plans made me believe this was the right club for me. It wasn’t a decision I had to think too hard about in the end.
“The players are starting to recover from the shock of relegation and now believe they are good enough to push their way up the league. I hope I can contribute.”