22 YEAR OLD goalkeeper Rehnesh TP got his big break when NorEast United fielded him in 12 matches during the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League. He went on to keep 5 clean sheets and in spite of NEUFC finishing at the bottom, managed to turn heads with his stout presence under the crossbar. In a recent interview, he recounted his footballing journey so far.
The Kerala lad started his senior career in relative quietness at ONGC during the 2012-13 season, when he made 18 I-League appearances, complete with 6 clean sheets. His performance caught the eyes of the recruiters from Dodsal Group and they signed him up at their new club, Mumbai Tigers. This proved to be an ill-fated move for him and other players as the club shut down before playing a single match in the I-League 2nd Division.
Thankfully the season was not a complete waste for him, as he was loaned off to Rangdajied United and got to make a few appearances in the I-League. Next season, he signed for city rivals Shillong Lajong, and due to their affiliation with NorthEast United, got to be part of their campaign which, according to him, changed his life,
"It was a great opportunity for me... before ISL no one cared... they were like, he is a chhota mota footballer. When it comes to ISL, it feels get when people... say that he plays for NorthEast, he's playing ISL."
Born in Kerala, Rehnesh grew up amidst a vibrant local football culture. His own grandfather was a well known footballer in the local circuits, which was part of the reason why he was attracted to the sport at a very young age,
"My grandfather used to play... in the local level. When I was a child, I used to hear from my mother and father that my grandfather did like this, played there, and he's got lots of local fans also. I got interested... I wished I could be like him."
One of only five players retained by NEUFC from last season, Rehnesh has become a central figure in the team. His time at Shillong Lajong has also been decent; in 15 appearances so far, he has managed to keep 5 clean sheets. Enjoying his time in Shillong and Guwahati, he is especially excited about being part of NEUFC's upcoming ISL campagin.
Speaking about the team's dynamics, Rehnesh was full of praise for their team owner, Bollywood superstar John Abraham,
"It's like, he's not our owner, he's one of us. He cares for us. Every match you can see, if we score, he gets too much excited, you know. He's great."
You can watch the entire interview here: