ATK Mohun Bagan FC, the newly formed Indian Super League (ISL) outfit, have rewarded last season’s ISL Emerging Player of the Year, Sumit Rathi, by giving him a new five-year contract. The new improved deal will see the Muzaffarnagar-born defender stay at the football club until 2025.
The defender, who rose up the ranks at ATK through the U18s and then the Reserves side, proved himself to be one of the best youngsters in the league. When the Kolkata-based franchise had first signed Sumit, they understood that they had a hidden gem on their hands.
The initial plan was for Sumit to challenge Salam Ranjan Singh and Ricky Lallamawma as the club’s second-choice centre-back and left-back this season. And then, possibly fight for a first-choice spot from 2020-21 onwards. Sumit, like the other Indian Arrows graduates in the squad, was intended to develop gradually and with time, integrate into the first team.
However, once given the opportunity, he performed and how! Bold, fearless and yet composed, the 19-year-old went toe to toe with the best foreign attackers in the league and gave them a run for their money. And once he proved his worth against Hyderabad FC and Bengaluru FC, Sumit was ostensibly first-choice left-back or left-centre-back in Habas’ three-man defence line.
His best performance came in the crucial away fixture against Mumbai where he consolidated the hype around him by walking away with a combustible Man of the Match performance. By the end of the season, Sumit had established himself as one of the key members of ATK’s title triumph and, quite deservingly, walked away with the league’s Emerging Player trophy.