DETERMINATION, ENDURANCE AND PERSEVERANCE are elements that are ingrained in sportsperson’s character. The biggest test is when the odds are against you and everything that you worked for comes to a standstill.
The Fan Garage brings you one such story of a football player who was faced with tough circumstances in his career and how he braved the storm of challenges to come through a winner.
At the Indian Super League Media day, The Fan Garage bumped into FC Pune City player Adil Khan, who was the join-highest scoring Indian midfielder in Indian Super League Season 4. The Goan boy did not make headway into professional football by himself. Continuing to play for his village in his pass time, he caught the attention of his local coach who helped him get an Under 13 team. From there Adil was introduced to Vasco Sport Club and represented their Under 15 team. His football foundation was laid when he got into SESA Football Academy.
“When I joined SESA Football Academy, that is when I decided to make football as my career”.
Every professional is confronted with a number of hurdles and Adil too was no exception. Sharing his set of challenges said,
“Being a sportsperson there are a lot of challenges. You struggle a lot with the injuries, you have to maintain your diet to keep yourself fit. When you are in your off season, you have to take care of yourself.”
The 30 year-old went on to state the things he had to give up in order to pursue his passion.
“I sacrificed my studies because I could not do both together. It was a difficult choice but I concentrated on football”
The decision to let go of studies in pursuit of a career in football was a tough one as Adil’s father wanted him to study. He could see himself excelling in the sports rather than academics. He even gave choosing cricket as a professional career a try but Goa is lesser known for cricket than football hence that route did not work well.
Things were going well for Adil, he had clocked game time at Goan club Sporting Club de Goa and had stints with Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and ISL team Delhi Dynamos. But just then a tragedy struck. Adil Khan suffered an injury that put him out of professional football for almost two years. He described it as a very difficult time and said,
“I was out of contract and not getting income. The money was only being spent to remain fit, gymnasium and swimming. It was difficult but I stuck to football because it was my passion. I was very eager to get my football career back”
Through this hard phase, the FC Pune City man said he was indebted to his family who supported him all the way.
“In the bad times when I was not earning, my brother, my father they supported me. They said to me ‘Take your time, you have a great future ahead if you maintain yourself properly’. They supported me financially as well”
Adil fought through and eventually got fit and rid of injuries. Now he needed to rejuvenate by getting back to professional football. He decided to take the offer at hand and went ahead and landed a contract with Lonestar Kashmir, a club in the second division I-League.
The tall Goan termed his Lonestar Kashmir spell as his “comeback” to football.
“My comeback is not ISL, my actual comeback is when I decided to play second division I-League because I was low of confidence. In Kashmir I saw the tough times how people stay and survive curfews. It is very difficult for players to go for everyday trainings. That is where I leant, people can survive is such difficult conditions means if we work in whatever we want to achieve we get it”
From Lonestar Kashmir, he went on to be selected by Churchill Brothers SC in the I-League 2016-17 season. He played as a central defender and delivered tremendous performances for the Goan club. In the following season, Adil was picked up by FC Pune City in the Indian Super League’s fourth edition. Adil was played in an advance role and was slotted in the midfield for Ranko Popvic’s FC Pune City. The result? Adil knocked in four goals and ended ISL 4 as joint-highest scoring Indian midfielder.
The midfielder turned defender answered a question if a player should choose a position that one feels most strong about or trust the coach’s plan completely saying,
“It depends on the player. If the player wants to stick to one position and where he is comfortable, it is his choice.”
The FC Pune City midfielder went on to share what a player needs to do if he is capable of playing in more than one position,
“If the player knows he can help his team in different positions, he has to step up and tell the coach that he can play a different position and he could try him in those positions. If it does work, it is well and good for the team, the coach and the player himself. This way even if there is competition in a position where he wants to play it can be helpful for the player. It is always good to have a versatility in your game”
Adil’s career took a hit due to being injured and how his tussle with tough times led him to comeback a stronger player could have many aspiring football players looking up to him. He gave a message to the young ones as he ended the chat with TFG saying,
“They need to work hard, be disciplined, show your passion towards football. Do what you feel like doing. If you want to continue in football, stay with it but if you don’t want that want to take up studies, do that”
FC Pune City begin ISL 5 campaign against Delhi Dynamos away from home on October 3 at 7: 30 pm.