January 16, 2021

Indian football: Subrata Paul – I want to play one more Asian Cup

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The experienced Hyderabad FC goalkeeper is hoping to return to the national team setup again…

India international and Hyderabad goalkeeper Subrata Paul is hoping to get back into the national team with his performances in the upcoming season. 

Talking to Indian Football on Instagram on Friday, the 33-year-old goalkeeper stated his desire to play one more AFC Asian Cup representing India

“I thank all my teammates. Without you, I am nothing. So please keep supporting me. I want to play one more Asia Cup. It will sound funny but I want to.

“Our respected national team coach (Igor Stimac) says if you have an Indian passport, you are eligible to play. I have that. I feel I have a lot to give the country. If (Gianluigi) Buffon can play at that age, I can. I have time and I have belief in myself that I can play.

“That (playing for India) has been my motivation until now. If I feel I have nothing to give to my country, I will pack my bags and stop playing football. I have full respect for the national team coach. If he thinks I am good enough, he will call. I am focused on my work. He called someone who had already retired (Anas Edathodika), so that is a motivation for me. Then why not me? That is my motivation,” the goalkeeper reasoned. 

During the long conversation online, the former Mohun Bagan goalkeeper also touched upon the unfortunate incident of the death of footballer Cristiano Jr 16 years ago/ The striker collapsed on the field following a collision with the goalkeeper in a Federation Cup final between Dempo and Mohun Bagan in 2004 and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. Subrata was initially suspended from football before FIFA gave him a clean chit and allowed the player to return to action. 

Recollecting the terrible turn of events, the custodian said. “I learnt from my mistakes. I have seen so many bad times and good times but I have stayed positive. 

“At that time, I had just joined Bagan. And that incident happened. It is very difficult for me. My close friends and well-wishers always supported me. I also saw people change. I was a young kid, I had nothing in mind, I was getting into depression, I couldn’t go outside my house. People were looking at me like I was guilty. I was suspended from for more than three months. 

“Slowly I recovered. Finally, I got a clean chit from FIFA and then everything was alright. The challenge was then coming back into the game. I challenged myself. My place was taken by someone else. From that period, I knew who is my best friend and who is my friend. I don’t have enemies. It was early on in my career.”

Subrata succeeded in taking his place back in Indian football and continued to be the first choice at the clubs he signs for. After three years with Jamshedpur, the veteran custodian has moved to Hyderabad ahead of the 2020-21 season. He has been around for so many years now but believes the art of goalkeeping hasn’t changed all that much.

“When I started playing football in the late 1990s, goalkeepers used to be only shot-stoppers. Even now they are doing the same thing, but are very good with their feet. This is the only thing that has changed, everything else is the same. My advice to the younger generation is to focus on technique. If you are looking to reach the highest level, you have to be good with your feet, so work on your feet,” he advised.