The 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) season has seen a number of Indian players stand up and make themselves count for their respective sides. However, it wouldn't be unfair to say that Mumbai City midfielder Bipin Singh has been the most impressive amongst them in terms of end product. But who is he and what is his story like? All of those questions about Indian football's newest star will be answered right here.
Where is Bipin Singh from?
Bipin is from the tiny north eastern state of Manipur, from a small town named Wangoi.
How old was he when he started playing football?
He was born on 10 March 1995 and was first introduced to the game when he was just eight years old.
Where did he learn the basics of the game?
At the age of 13, Bipin joined one of Manipur's most famous youth clubs called Wafa Wangoi Club where he stayed for three years. He then moved on to Manipur Police Sports Club where he further honed his skills.
What positions can he play in?
Although he was used as both a left-back and a striker during his formative years in Manipur, he is most comfortable playing on either wing in support of the strikers upfront.
What clubs has he represented at a professional level?
Bipin first came into the limelight when he signed for Shillong Lajong FC in 2012. His debut for the Meghalaya-based club came in an I-League match against ONGC on 22 December 2012. However, Lajong went on to lose the match 3-0. Five years later, he was picked up by the erstwhile ATK during the player draft ahead of the 2017-18 season. The following season Mumbai City FC roped him in and thus started his rise towards becoming the talk of the town barely three seasons down the line.
What are some of his strengths as a player?
Bipin's biggest strength is his ability on the ball with both feet. Although primarily right-footed, he is equally effortless with his left foot when it comes to passing, crossing and shooting. His speed is another big plus while his decision-making has improved considerably over the last few years and he now knows exactly when to keep hold of the ball and when to release it.
What are his statistics for this season?
The 2020-21 ISL season has been his breakthrough campaign. In 22 matches this term, he notched 6 goals and 4 assists and ended up with the only hat-trick in the entire season, against Odisha FC. With 46 tackles and 18 blocks, his defensive contribution throughout the season was also right up there. However, what takes the cake is the beautifully taken goal that gave Mumbai City the title on the night of the final.
What has been the reason behind his drastic rise?
The general consensus behind his rapid improvement is that he has become more positionally aware, something that his coach at Shillong Lajong, Thangboi Singto vouches for. Speaking to Hindustan Times recently, the current Hyderabad FC assistant coach said about Bipin, "He has had a better environment for learning – good coaches, better training areas, training with better players, foreign trips, getting acquainted with city life and having higher quality training and matches. These factors have escalated his overall improvement."
How are his future prospects looking at the moment?
His performances for Mumbai City have seen him earn a call-up into the Indian national team set-up for the upcoming friendlies against Oman and UAE. He is now slated to make his debut on the 25th against Oman and if things go well, should also feature in the World Cup qualifying games later this year.
What is the one 'mantra' that Bipin himself follows?
In a recent interview, the 26-year-old explained how he keeps his focus on the game by quoting Mumbai City head coach Sergio Lobera's advice. He said, "If you try to play with your mind still thinking about a mistake you made, you will certainly make another one. He (Lobera) tells us that it is important to back yourself and keep going on."Great advice if you are a young player trying to make it big.