Dheeraj Singh – The AFC Champions League was a big opportunity for me

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Dheeraj Singh

After a brilliant season with FC Goa, Dheeraj Singh, who shot into the limelight with the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2017, is back on track. He was signed by Kerala Blasters in 2018 but dropped down the watchlist ever since his move to Kolkata. The 21-year-old managed to feature in only one match over his two seasons at ATK and ATK Mohun Bagan before sealing a winter transfer to FC Goa.

With Juan Ferrando at the helm, the goalkeeper had a rejuvenating season, keeping two clean sheets in nine competitive games. The form carried over to the AFC Champions League as well, as he conceded only four goals in five games, keeping two clean sheets in the process. The youngster was a wall in between the sticks for the Gaurs, preventing teams like Al Rayyan and Wahda from scoring.

Singh was recently recognized for his performances in the league as he was named in the AFC Champions League Team of the Season. This is what the keeper had to say after achieving such a feat.

Dheeraj Singh

Dheeraj on being named in the AFC Champions League team of the season

It’s a nice feeling and it is a pleasure to be included among the best. I’ve been there in Asia so of course, it is a big motivation for me. The Champions League is already gone and the ISL has started. It was a big platform and an incredible opportunity for me to play in such a platform. We are now looking forward to the ISL, it is a nice feeling to be named there as a player of the season in the AFC Champions League.”

Dheeraj on his time with ATK and move to FC Goa

It is a part of our profession and life as well. I got very little chance when I was with ATK but when I moved to Goa, I started playing regularly. The last one and half years with ATK was training to be at my best since as a professional, you need to improve yourself to get a chance. The coach here trusted me and gave me a chance to revive myself.”

In the first few games, to be honest, I was not at my optimal level, but I slowly picked up. For a player, it is very important to play more matches in order to get more experience and that is what helped me to perform well in the AFC Champions League.”

Dheeraj Singh

Dheeraj Singh’s message to the youngsters

The football situation in India in the past 10 years and now is very different. It has changed and now nothing is impossible. When I was a kid, I never thought I will become a footballer and never thought that I would get a call up to the national team but it happened.”

So nothing is impossible if you are really honest with yourself and work hard. If you are truly in love with this sport, then I would request you to please pursue it in the best way and be disciplined and be honest and keep working hard. That’s all I can say to the young players coming up.”

The 21-year-old goalkeeper has conceded six goals in his first two games in the ongoing ISL season, but Dheeraj is expected to return back to form soon, alongside the rest of the Gaurs’ defenders. The next game for FC Goa is against Northeast United FC on 4th December.

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