Ashutosh Mehta has decided to extend his stay with Mumbai FC for another year and has also become one of the latest Indian additions to the IMG-Reliance players’ pool.
After an impressive I-League season with Mumbai FC, Mehta’s prized signature was one of the sought after names this summer.
However, the midfielder has pledged another year of his career to Mumbai FC after having held talks with Bengaluru FC, East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Pune FC and Salgaocar.
“I never hid the fact that I wanted to play in Kolkata. I knew many clubs were interested in signing me and had made substantial offers. For a while I thought of accepting the given offer and move, knowing the fact that if I denied the offer I would be deceiving myself. But on the other hand, Mumbai FC has been extremely special and very close to my heart. I'm very much aware about what this club has given me and I am eternally thankful to it for the same,” Mehta told Goal.
He shall also ply his trade in the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) and believes that the new tournament will help promote the game in the country.
“I'm looking forward to play in this league as this is happening for the first time in India. I feel honoured to be a part of this major tournament. I am glad that I could give my best in the previous season which was recognized. Also, this shall probably help in the growth of the game in our nation and will prove out to be inspirational for many upcoming players,” he remarked.
He also gave due credits of his success to Mumbai FC gaffer Khalid Jamil for giving him the chance to prove himself.
“I have been playing this beautiful game since I was a kid. I realized at an early age that football gave me a lot of happiness and to be a professional footballer became my only destination. Here, I would like to give huge credits to my mentor, my coach Khalid Jamil who has always inspired me to try to not only be better, but the best every day,” he mentioned.
Though Mehta was arguably the best Indian player in the Mumbai FC side, the Under-23 player failed to impress India coach Wim Koevermans. Along with Souvik Chakrabarty, Mehta was one of the surprise omissions from the 30-member squad training for the upcoming Asian Games.
“I am a little disappointed but it has only motivated me to train harder for the coming season. I believe in myself and I will keep going until and unless I wear the Indian colours. I wish all the luck to the boys for their tournament,” he said.
Talking about his personal targets for the next season, he hopes to improve further and thereby achieve his dreams.
“My aim has always been to give 100 percent on the field. I will continue to remain hard on myself. I have dreams and I am scared of them because they're big, very big."
Mumbai FC has never been touted as a title contender, but the player who made 23 appearances in the 24 matches last season in the I-League, hopes that things will change this time.
“All the teams are in the league to win, so there are no easy games against any team in the I-League. Yes, I agree that it becomes frustrating for the team sometimes but at the same time we are determined to prove that Mumbai FC is not meant for fighting relegation. All the boys are looking forward for the next season. We will try our best to put a smile on Mumbai FC fans as they mean a lot to us. Hopefully, the fans wouldn't get a chance to say this the next season,” he signed off.