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Separated, then reunited- Nihal Sudeesh and his love story with Kerala Blasters

As a part of our ISL Spotlight series, we speak to Nihal Sudeesh of Kerala Blasters as he lives the dream of playing for his local club.

Separated, then reunited- Nihal Sudeesh and his love story with Kerala Blasters

Nihal Sudeesh


Aswathy Santhosh

Updated: 6 Oct 2022 7:32 AM GMT

"Playing for the team I adored once as a fan is the best feeling", said Nihal Sudeesh. The 21-year-old boy who netted four times in the developmental league for Kerala Blasters didn't try to conceal his excitement about representing the yellow army. Nihal is not a new face amongst KBFC, as he started his professional career from the youth set-up of the Kochi-based club.

The 9th edition of the Indian Super League kicks off in a few days with Kerala Blasters taking on Kolkata giants East Bengal FC. Ivan Vukomanovic's men are raring to go and Nihal Sudeesh is one of the reserve team players who got the ticket to the senior squad. But he is well aware of the competition inside the team.

"Having other quality players in my position is an added motivation. In the reserve squad you'll get the spot in the starting lineup without much pressure, but here it's an entirely different scenario. We always have to perform at our best to earn that spot," Nihal on earning his spot.

Days in the Indian Navy

Nihal went on to join Indian Navy in 2021 after leaving Kerala Blasters but he left the team after a year. "I thought they'll allow me to play for Kerala Blasters while I was working for Navy, but that freedom was not there. When I made my parents aware of the situation, they supported my decision to quit the job," Nihal recalled.

The dichotomy between coaches

Nihal has played under both Tomasz Tchorz and Ivan Vukomanovic. However, he has an honest opinion on the experience of being coached by them.

"Tomasz is a little short-tempered, but Ivan is calmer and more composed. Tomasz coach showed his trust in me by giving me a chance in the starting line-up of development league games when I haven't even appeared in KPL that year," the youngster analysed.

Fan pressure can be daunting, especially at a club like KBFC. Nihal talked about how Vukomanovic tackles the same. "Coach always tells us to forget about the crowd and play our game, but we play for the fans. Without the fans, football has no value."

A Kerala lad all around

"Playing football with my peers was the initial connection to the game but after the 2010 World Cup, the love I had for football strengthened. I like Cristiano Ronaldo a lot, which is easily understandable from my goal celebration!" he said.

Nihal hails from Ernakulam and started training with FA Cochin in 2014. "My family was always supportive of my dreams but I had to switch schools so that I can train every day without missing out on my education."

"We moved to Kollam for a short period and again returned to Ernakulam. I enrolled in the sports council and shortly after that, I got selected for the Kerala Blasters U18 team," he recalled.

Playing against the big fish

RF development League was a breakthrough for Nihal as he found the net 4 times in 7 games helping the Blasters finish as the runners-up. He also played against Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace in the Premier League Next Gen cup earlier this year.

Despite the heavy defeats, Nihal likes to remember the lessons they learnt from the trip to the UK. "We were astonished to see the kind of training facilities they have and it is evident from the quality they possess, but I think we put up a good fight," the fledgling midfielder said.

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