The club’s first new signing for the season results in the 28-year-old turning out to be the third player from Pune to ever figure in the main squad. Earlier, striker Sandesh Gadkari (2007-2011) and winger Paresh Shivalkar (2010-12) plied their skills at the club.
The forward becomes the fourth Maharashtra player after Kolhapur’s Nikhil Kadam to earn the nod from Pune FC. Prakash will thus be at Pune FC for a two-year period (2013-14 and 2014-15).
Pune FC Head Operations Chirag Tanna said, “We are happy to have Prakash on board for this season. His signing should send out a strong message that Pune city has talent and also that hard work is recognized.”
Prakash’s signing, thus, completes his long term desire to play for a club he looked up to when plying his skills in local and state club teams respectively, where he always remained a stand out player.
His career took off when Air-India took him on during the second window of the 2011-12 season, where he effectively executed his role when deployed as a winger. On his I-League debut (Air India FC vs Pailan Arrows, 14 April 2012) at the Salt Lake Stadium he walked out with a satisfying memory scoring twice in the 2–0 result.
In his first professional season (2011-12), Prakash made 7 I-League appearances and played a role in his side staving off relegation and achieve a mid-table finish.
An overall impressive show helped him earn a permanent move to the Mumbai-based side in 2012-13. In fact, at the start of the season, Prakash was nominated captain when the team began its Durand Cup 2012 campaign. Although he featured at the start, injury ruled him out of the latter stages of the tournament, which Air-India and Prakash ended up winning.
Prakash followed up on his scoring ability netting three in the 2012-13 I-League in the 20 appearances (included 15 starts) he was handed, many as a winger to support the strikers.
The forward said; “My target is to get settled in fast and cement my place in the team, which I will work on immediately. This has been my dream and I want to prove myself in every single opportunity I get.”
Nicknamed ‘Pappya’ by his friends, Prakash made his name particularly when at semi-professional side Deccan XI and Maharashtra State Police.
The forward has twice bagged the Golden Boot in the Nagpur Football League (2010 and 2011) scoring seven goals in each edition respectively. Later In 2011, Prakash followed up his goal-scoring instincts with 13 goals in 5 games in the inaugural Aurangabad Premier League.
The signing, for Prakash, turns out to be a homecoming of sorts to play professionally in his home-town.