In the one and a half years, Suresh Singh Wangjam has become an integral part of the Indian Super League side Bengaluru FC and the Indian National team starting eleven. He has gone beyond expectations and showed Indian football fans what he is capable of in the future. We had a candid chat with him, and he spilled some of his secrets as well as what he expects in the upcoming ISL season.
On his experience with the national team
Q1. You made your debut for India in March 2021 and then went on to play five consecutive matches for India. How was your experience with the Indian national team?
I am glad that I made my debut with the Indian National Team. I got the chance to play with senior players like Sandesh Bhai, Amrinder Bhai, Pritam Bhai, and many more. I was lucky to get all the game time, and it's rare for a young player to play so many matches. I want to thank my coach Igor Stimac for giving me the opportunity.
The experience of the U-17 FIFA World Cup in 2017
Q2. You were a part of the Indian team that played the FIFA under-17 World Cup in 2017. Being a part of the team, you had the opportunity to play against many great footballing nations. You got the chance to share the field with players like Haaland, Phil Foden, Jaden Sancho, and Vinicius Jr., players stars of world football right now. Are the expectations from the batch of 2017 very high in Indian football?
Expectations are high for us because we played in the world cup. But before the world cup, the exposure we got as part of the preparatory process was something no other Indian player has got in terms of opportunity. If you see the ISL, most of the players are in the starting eleven. Players like Rahim Ali (Chennaiyn FC), Amarjit Singh Kiyam (FCGoa), and Aniket Jadhav (Jamshedpur FC) have already become regular starters; for their teams.
New Deal with BFC
Q3. Congratulations on signing a new three-year deal with Bengaluru FC. How do you feel after putting pen to paper for such a long contract? Where do you see yourself with BFC in the next three years?
Whenever I think of BFC, I smile. When I joined BFC in 2019, I was thinking a lot about what to do. When the offer was made for the contract extension, I did not think twice. I just signed it. I feel this is the right place and the right time. The staff and the senior players around me are very professional. BFC is a club that gives an opportunity to young players to perform, and I was very convinced about their plans. I love playing with Chhetri Bhai, Gurpreet Bhai, Udanta Bhai, Ashique Bhai, and others.
I cannot forget about the fans. They love me and support me.
His favorite position in midfield
Q4. We have seen you play various positions in midfield with Bengaluru FC, Indian Arrows, and the Indian National Team. What is your favorite position to play, and why?
I love to play box-to-box, I like to make a run behind the defender and want to come back and defend as well.
Individual goals for the 2021-22 season
Q5. What are the individual targets that you have set yourself in the 2021-22 season?
I don't know exactly. I want to be injury-free and work hard. I want to score goals and assist more. I have some goals, but I won't reveal them. I want to keep this a secret and achieve them. (In a funny tone)
On Bengaluru FC
Q6. Bengaluru FC is known for its comebacks. They bounce back after every disappointment, be it the loss to Mohun Bagan in the second season of the I-League, the ISL final loss to Chennaiyn, and more. The last season in the ISL was disappointing, so how is the environment in the club approaching the AFC Cup and the ISL?
The last ISL season was very bad for us. It was not something we expected or wanted. The good thing is, it is the past. We can only take the positives and learn from the negatives. I can feel that everyone in the training session looks sharp, positive, focused, and wants to do better than last year. We can prove to ourselves and our fans that we can do it and come back stronger.
Why Gurpreet calls him his son
Q7. Ending things on a lighter note, how did the father-son banter start with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu?
I started my first game for BFC against Odisha in the 2019-20 season. The game was good, we played well and won the game 3-0. I started the next match against Hyderabad also, and when the game was at 0-0, I fouled a player, which resulted in a penalty to Hyderabad. It was the worse feeling. For a young player in his second game, to give a penalty was a huge thing. I started thinking that I have given away a penalty; after this, will I get another chance? Will I play again for BFC? After the foul, he came to me and hugged me. He told me, no problem, it's okay. You can make mistakes. It happens. The best part was he saved the penalty. I went to him and hugged him. And from then on, he started calling me son—this how the story began.
Bengaluru FC is scheduled to play the AFC Cup in August, and then in the Indian Super League which starts in mid-November in Goa. Suresh Wangjam has his targets set and will be working hard to achieve them with his team.