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Sanjiban Ghosh: The brick wall that denied Minerva Punjab in Super Cup

07:04 GMT+4 07/04/2018
Sanjiban Ghosh
The 26-year old goalkeeper pulled out a string of fantastic saves throughout the match and also stopped twice during tie-breakers to knock-out Minerva

After getting a hand to Gagandeep Bali's feeble attempt from the spot, there was no chest-thumping or punching in the air by the Jamshedpur goalkeeper on Monday. Instead, the man-of-the-hour was seen nonchalantly getting his gloves off from his hand and walking away from the goal. Sanjiban Ghosh had just put in what can be arguably called the best performance of his season to fire Jamshedpur FC into the quarter-finals of the Super Cup and yet chose not to celebrate.

"I just try to do my job giving my 100 per cent. Being a goalkeeper is tough and after a gruelling match like that I had nothing left in me to celebrate. But yes, I was obviously happy with my performance as I could help my team to progress to the next round," informed Ghosh to Goal after the match. 

Tie-breakers would not have been necessary if Ghosh had not single-handedly denied Chencho Gyeltshen twice in as many minutes from close range when his entire defence was beaten by the pace of the Bhutanese. When questioned if those saves would feature in the top five he had made in his career, the custodian disagreed. 

"Yeah those were good saves. But I have made some better saves before. So, I don't think that my saves against Minerva will feature in my top 5 saves. 

"I still remember that during my stint with Mumbai FC we were fighting relegation and it was a must-win match against Churchill. I pulled off some tough saves and we won the match 2-1," said the soft-spoken keeper after thinking a while. 

At the age of 13, Ghosh began travelling from Andul, a small town in Howrah district, to Dukhiram Majumdar Football Coaching Centre in Kolkata and began his footballng sojourn. 

"I knew only one bus which will take me to Dukhiram from Andul. My father accompanied me on the first day and after that I travelled alone. I did not know any alternative route so I used to wait for hours at the bus-stand," recounted Sanjiban. 

Soon, he was signed by Southern Samity and made his first appearance in the Premier Division of the Calcutta Football League (CFL) at the age of 17. But his relationship with Dukhiram did not end. Since Southern Samity could not afford a goalkeeping coach, Ghosh would continue to train under Sailen Pramanik at Dukhiram. After a string of eye-catching performances in the local league, he got an offer from Mumbai FC, which was his first shot at the top flight of Indian club football. 

"It was a huge step for me. Khalid bhai (Khalid jamil) asked me to join Mumbai and I grabbed the offer with both my hands. I travelled to Mumbai by air and it was my first ever flight journey. So it would remain special to me.

"I spent six seasons at the club. I matured a lot in that period. In my initial years in Mumbai I used to play in not-so-important matches. Subhash da (Subhash Chakraborty) and Abhishek bhai (Abhishek Yadav) guided me a lot and I owe a lot to them for whatever I have achieved in my career so far," said the soft-spoken shot-stopper.

In October, 2015 Ghosh got his first call to serve the nation and was subsequently named in the squad for the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Oman by coach Stephen Constantine, which according to him remains the highlight of his career. 

As fate would have it, the lanky six feet two inch goalkeeper was signed by Delhi Dynamos when both their first choice goalkeepers, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury and Ravi Kumar, were ruled out due to injury. He made three appearances and made 14 saves of thef 19 shots he faced. But a groin injury sidelined for three weeks, and even after recovery he could not make a comeback into the starting XI.

"When I suffered the injury, Roberto Sir (Roberto Carlos) promised me that I would once feature in the team once I get fit. But even after I fully resumed practice, I could not make the break-through," said the Jamshedpur FC custodian.

In the next season, Delhi Dynamos retained him as he made a permanent move to the capital club, snapping his ties with Mumbai FC. But in this edition of ISL he did not make a single appearance due to an issue with the Dynamos management. 

"I did not think much about it. I knew it is just a bad phase and it will pass. I just put my all in practice and I did not think much," reminisced Ghosh. 

It is widely known that the Bengali goalkeeper idolizes another keeper from his clan who co-incidentally is the first choice keeper at his current club.

"I learn a lot from Mishtu da (Subrata Pal). He is my mentor at Jamshedpur FC. His guidance along with our goalkeeping coach's (Robert Mimms) efforts on the training ground is helping me develop as a goalkeeper. 

"He is the best goalkeeping coach I have ever had. His guidance is not restricted to video sessions but he keeps a close watch on me in training and rectifies my mistake," praised Ghosh. 

When most of the ISL sides have bit the dust, the second choice goalkeeper of Jamshedpur single-handedly saved his team's blushes in the Super Cup Round of 16. When asked about his future aims and ambitions, Ghosh says he has set his eyes on two targets.

"It was difficult for us to accept that we could not qualify for the play-offs. By winning the Super Cup, I would like to make up for it. My next target is to get as many matches as I can under my belt so that I get recalled in the national team," concluded the new blue-eyed boy of the steel city of India.