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'Playing for East Bengal, one of the best things to happen,' says Asheer Akhtar

Playing for East Bengal, one of the best things to happen, says Asheer Akhtar

Prachyaprachetah Sarkar

Published: 31 Jan 2020 2:07 PM GMT

Born in the Kamptee suburb of Nagpur City, childhood dreams and memories was entirely comprised of football for Quess East Bengal defender Asheer Akhtar as he got into a candid chat with The Bridge. The 25 year old SAIL football academy graduate got the first inspiration to go forward with the ball from his father Mahfooz Akhtar, a former footballer, as Asheer recapitulates, "I started playing football since early childhood as I used to go to the ground with my father. During my high school days, I played as a striker for M.M.Rabbani High School. After 10th, I went to Bokaro as I got selected in the SAIL academy trial. It was the first challenge that I took up cause my sister insisted me to continue with my education after scoring 90% in the 10th final. But I opted football cause I wanted to fulfill my dream of becoming a professional footballer".

Asheer Akhtar

Asheer Akhtar in action for Quess East Bengal (Image : Asheer Akhtar/ Facebook)

Asheer started his professional career playing for his hometown club Rabbani Club in the Nagpur League and this time also he juggled the ball perfectly between the football ground and the classroom as he completed his school final while playing in the Nagpur league. Thus the career expectations on Asheer once again rose to a new height when his family insisted him to take up studies as his priority. But it seems Asheer was quite ace in chasing his dream as he does in the Red and Gold defence with utter calibre. He enrolled himself in a BBA course, but later decided to give up his career opportunities in management as he had the sole goal of being a professional footballer deep-lying in his heart.

"After 12th, my sisters wanted me to continue my education again and I didn't have any other options because I had no way to go to any club or academy at that moment. So I took the admission for BBA in S.K.Porwal College, Kamptee. But then there was Nagpur Premier league was going on so I never went to college whole year (smiles). After the league got over, I went to college and every teacher of our class was shocked to see me and asked me that what will I do now? I said I will manage, but a few days before the exam, I told my family that I don’t wanna take the exam. Though everyone was unhappy, my father supported and stood by me and thus I got the courage to follow my dreams" said Asheer on sharing his memories on the journey from the rooms of Nagpur to the Maidan of Kolkata.

Asheer Akhtar

Image : Asheer Akhtar/ Facebook

Naushad Moosa the Bengaluru FC assistant coach has been like a "farishta" in Asheer's footballing life so far. Whenever he has been in a turmoil or in a decision-making situation, it's the former Indian international who has always stepped up for his student. Asheer told, "Naushad sir was my coach in Pune FC. After the club was shut down, I was struggling at home without a club for almost five months and that is when he told me to join Lonestar Kashmir FC for the 2nd division I-league. Thereafter I played for Salgaocar, Mumbai FC and finally joined Bengaluru FC and this time it was also Moosa sir who called me up. I had a great experience at Bengaluru FC as I got to play some matches in the AFC Cup. Though I was registered for ISL, I never got a chance to play there"

Asheer joined East Bengal this season after his contract ended with Bengaluru FC. He was initially called up for a trial by Quess East Bengal FC during the pre-season where his performance impressed the then coach Allesandro Menendez Garcia and the boy from Nagpur was signed in by the Kolkata giants. Naushad Moosa was again the person who insisted him to go to the East Bengal trial leaving aside offers from other clubs. "He gave me a lot of confidence during the trial and now I am so happy to be here" sounded Asheer as his affection for the BFC coach got expressed.


On asking about the contrasts in respect to football between Bangalore and Kolkata, Asheer turned up quite interesting as he said, "Bengaluru FC is one of the best clubs in the country now and playing alongside Sunil Chhetri was a great experience as I learnt a lot from him. Khabra Bhai, Rahul Bhai, Erik Paartalu motivated me a lot. One of the things that I learnt there is professionalism and discipline like how to keep yourself fit about diet and all. Playing under coach like Albert Roca was also a huge achievement for me. Whereas, playing for one of the Kolkata giants was one of my dreams. Playing here is not very easy but people here are amazing as they love football more than anything. Playing in such a crazy atmosphere is a very rare experience and I'm enjoying it at Kolkata".

"the win against Chennai City was very important for us to bring back the confidence in the team. We did it together and it's a matter of believe and hard work. There is still long way to go in the league and hope we will do much better than this"

-on East Beangal's recent form

The defender came up with a detail and hopeful reflection of the dressing room as he said, "It happens as football is a game of winning and losing and the win against Chennai City was very important for us to bring back the confidence in the team. We did it together and it's a matter of belief and hard work. There is still a long way to go in the league and hopefully, we will do much better than this," when asked about the reasons that lead East Bengal back to the right and winning notes. He added, "We have many matches left and have to keep winning the games to get at the top of the table by the end of the season. Although it's not an easy job but this is the only way we have in hand. We have lost many games so we can't afford to lose any more now and we are working hard as a team to make it assured," while being asked about his expectations from the season standings at the halfway of the league.

Asheer ended the chat expressing his aspirations in the coming years. He said, "First of all, I want to be in the ISL as it's the main league now in India and if things go in the right way, I can train hard and eat well, then I can see myself in the national team jersey Insha Allah" as he signed off.

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