Renowned Media Director of Indian Football Nilanjan Datta teamed up with ‘Indian Ozil’ Sahal Abdul Samad, attacking midfielder for Kerala Blasters FC and for Indian national team, for an interview recently organised on AIFF’s instagram live.
Nilanjan started the live session by asking him to share his secret behind the dribbling skills, to which Sahal stated that there’s no such secret, the practice is key to his performance every time and he usually watches Lionel Messi’s matches. “It feels good when I dribble and get past the defender in the match”, he added.
In response to questions about his childhood starting his football career, he responded, “I was born & bought up in Al Ain in UAE and in third grade I participated in football and that was my first football team.”
Later he started playing for Dubai 7’s in his brother’s team & then he joined Al-Ethihad Football Academy. To complete his degree education he moved to Kerala and it has been his best decision ever, he said.
When he was asked about I.M.Vijayan, he told that all young players of not only Kerala but also all over India lookup to him as an inspiration. He’s the ‘Black Pearl’ of India. “Unfortunately I could not play with the legend like him. But I have seen him playing at 7’s Football in Kerala & I would definitely say he still has those magical feet.”
He also revealed what Indian captain Sunil Chettri said to him when they paired up & trained together for first time in the national camp of 2019 and spoke about the influence he had on him and said, “When I went to the ground for my first training session, he just walked with me putting his hand around my shoulder & advised me to only play football as I would like with no pressure. From that day I understood what kind of person he is. Sunil bhai just keeps talking to young players & keeps inspiring them. With no doubt he is the best, but also motivates others on and off the field with his positive mindset all the time.”
In between the conversation, a rapid fire round was held, wherein he was asked which match was his best one till now. He mentioned the match against Qatar which was a draw and said it was the best till now. He didn’t forget to mention his brother Fazel and his family who always supported him throughout his career till now.
“It’s a proud moment for every football player to represent the national team having worn the Indian blue jersey. When all players gather at club or at national camp we’ve pretty of fun and learn some new things also. Coach Igor Stimac is the person who gives equal importance to everyone even if you start in match or you are on bench”, he said after being asked about his experience at national team camps & matches.
Talking about ups & downs in footballer’s life, he mentioned that people always speak of excellence. But, whenever they lose a match at club or with the national team, he goes through the match again looking at the mistakes he made. “After every match we have the team meetings so I can understand where to improve. The next day is a new day & that’s where I start again and look forward to give my best performance further.”
“I am really excited to play for Kerala Blasters FC in the upcoming ISL season and give my best to the team. It’s sad to see that this season is going to be behind closed doors without our fans who always motivate us by their chants”, he said in his reply for upcoming season.
Concluding the session, he left a message for all football fans in Malayalam wishing everybody good health and to stay safe.