EUGENESON LYNGDOH is a man in demand. The central midfielder from Shillong, after a rather quiet beginning to his career
at Rangdajied United in the local circuits, saw his profile and performance take a major turn for the better when he was picked by Shillong Lajong to play in the I-League. A late bloomer of the best kind, he soon made his mark at the highest level, making 32 league appearances in 2 seasons, scoring 4 goals and turning heads all over with his forceful yet creative maneuverings. He returned to his boyhood (and family owned) club for a season when they qualified for the I-League First Division. Then, in summer 2014, he was recruited by Bengaluru FC.
That's when things went large scale as he beccame the first Indian ever to score in the Asian Champions League, in a qualifier game against Johor Darul Ta'zim. He played well in the Federation Cup, I-League as well as the AFC Cup, and also bagged his national debut in a World Cup pre-qualifier game against Nepal.
When he went under the hammer in the ISL Player Auctions, the franchises engaged in a fierce battle to sign him. He was the first player whose price tag crossed 1 crore, and also recorded the highest increase on his initial asking price. In the end he was signed by FC Pune City for Rs 1.05 crore.
Speaking to the Indian Super League official Twitter account about his upcoming ISL debut, the 28 year old said it was all part of one process to improve as a player,
"Whatever knowledge and experience I've gained from I-League I can apply in the ISL, and gain more from the ISL, so I can develop as a player."
At Pune City he will share a dressing room with stars of the game like Tuncay ÅžanlÄ± and Adrian Mutu, and Eugeneson is quite excited with the opportunity,
"As a boy, you always wanted to play with big stars. It's beyond a dream, beyond my expectations. Looking forward to it... football is not just about technique or skill, it's about your football knowledge. So when we play alongside players who have come from a background that's very rich of football, the knoweledge of football develops in each and every player."
Eugeneson has been keenly observing the impact ISL has had on Indian football as a whole. He recognizes the the fame, money and limelight that has been brought into the sport by ISL and acknowledges the importance of it,
"You can't play sports throughout your life. It's a specific span when you can play. And if you can earn money and feel appreciated for what we do, I feel it's deserving. And it promotes a sport, makes other kids to want to play football."
But as the pressure builds up ahead of the start of ISL 2, Eugeneson is taking it all in his stride. The focus, for him, is to go out there and savour every moment, as is always the case when he plays the game he loves,
"Like I said, football is something I always wanted to play and it's something I love doing. So when we're in the game, it's all about football. Doesn't matter."