Goal.com's Sarthak Dubey caught up with India's now-retired centre back Mahesh Gawli and asked him to choose his favourite five moments for India...The only Indian footballer to be named in the Asian All Star U-16 team, with two SAFF Cups under his belt, proud winner of two Nehru Cups and most famously, winner of the 2008 Challenge Cup - India's long serving centre back Mahesh Gawli had a long and illustrious career wearing the Blue Indian jersey.
After wrapping up the 2011 SAFF Cup at New Delhi, the stopper-back announced his retirement from international football, stating that he wants to continue playing club football (for Dempo SC) at the highest level for a "few more years".
Goal.com caught up with the 31 year old and asked him to list his favourite moments while playing for the National Team:
5.) Life's Good after lifting the LG cup!
There were many memories that confused Mahesh Gawli, but No.5 would go to India's LG Cup victory in 2002. He said, "I have won SAFF Cups before so I would go for the LG Cup win. It was the first tournament I won playing for India and it made me feel extremely proud." Abhishek Yadav scored the match-winner in the dying minutes as India rallied brilliantly to beat hosts Vietnam 3-2 in an exciting final.
4.) The Man-of-the-Match
And The Man Of The Match Is.....Winning the standout-performer-award after any game is a special feeling for any professional sportsman, but winning it in a final and helping your nation lift the coveted trophy in front of a full house is a different feeling alltogether. Mahesh was quoted saying, "I remember the stadium being fully packed. It was an outstanding performance by our team defensively as the Syrian team pressurised us throughout the game. One of the best games I played in my career, personally." India won the final 1-0 with a first half goal from Pradeep, but Mahesh Gawli was adjudged Man-of-the-match in the Nehru Cup 2007.
3.) The Asian Cup Dream
Despite getting belted for 13 goals and managing to score only 3 against heavyweights like Australia, South Korea and Bahrain in the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar, Gawli somehow extracted the positives to take home from a terrible experience ON the field: "It was a dream come true to meet the stars from big teams that have played even in World Cups at this tournament. Having qualified for Asian Cup boosted our morale."
2.) Bhutia Off, Gawli Captain!
In the Nehru Cup final against Syria, Bhaichung Bhutia not only handed Mahesh Gawli the captain's armband as he was substituted, but also transmitted the feelings of extreme pride and satisfaction. Gawli told Goal.com: "As Bhutia went off, he chose me to lead the team. It was a very important moment for me and I felt so proud to be leading my country."
1.) My Debut for the Nation.
The First Jersey.. Does He Still Have It?
He may forget the only goal he scored for India, but will never forget his first memory of donning the national jersey. A fresh start, a fresh team, a first cap. There was nothing more fascinating than playing under the national team manager and training with the best from the country. "We won that match against Thailand and I was wearing the Blue jersey for the first time. It was a very proud feeling for me and my family."
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