When Kozhikode-born Prasanth Karuthadathkuni smashed home a 92nd-minute matchwinner for Chennai City against East Bengal in March last year, he was also clearing doubts about his future as a footballer.
Prasanth entered the field of sports as an athlete and had won prizes as a runner. He once tried his hand at auditioning for a dance reality show in Kerala before switching fields to mountain cycling and even cricket at once stage of his life. Finally, the dice stopped rolling and landed on the spot named football.
"I have tried my luck in all fields. I have tried dancing and auditioned for a dance reality show. Then I tried mountain cycling and also attended U-12 cricket camp in Calicut. It was my brother's friend who suggested that I try my hand at athletics. I started bagging prizes in that field.
"By that time, I had started learning and watching football. I did trials at the Vision India camp in Kozhikode and progressed from there," recalled Prasanth during a chat with Goal .
After Kerala Blasters retained Prasanth for the 2017-18 season after a brief spell at Chennai City, the 21-year-old could not make an immediate impact at the Kochi-based club. But he came back strongly under David James in the second half of the season and seems to have got into the good books of the English coach. The AIFF Elite Academy product did not disgrace himself in the recent 0-6 defeat against Melbourne City in Kochi, often making good runs down the wings.
"When David James arrived last season, I had just undergone a surgery. He gave me a chance to play later on when I was fit again but I could not use it properly. My performance was really bad. But then he gave me chances again and I started growing in confidence.
"Training in Finland also improved my confidence. Under David James, whoever impresses in training will get a chance to play."
Prasanth's talent hasn't gone unnoticed amongst the new arrivals at the club. Serbian striker Slavisa Stojanovic was all-praise for the Keralite, saying, " Prasanth is the best young player at Kerala Blasters. He was really good against Melbourne. His dribbling, his crosses were all good."
While Prasanth knows that he has to do well in order to stand a chance to get into the India U-23 and senior team, he knows that a footballer's life will have ups and downs. Personal abuse, however, is something that is challenging to deal with.
"I do get a lot of negative comments in social media. I used to be really affected by them at first. When people comment below photos of me with my family, you obviously become disappointed.
"I am a football player. I am also someone who used to sit and watch seniors play football. I have never felt the need to abuse them if they play badly. It is a small section of fans that are doing it.
"I am not saying that players should not be criticised. But there is a way to do it. If I didn't play well, okay fine, but dragging my mother and father into this is really disappointing. I learned to ignore the comments, the life of players is like that."
The footballer in Prasanth Karuthadathkuni has matured but he remains a light-hearted lad off the field. The challenge of consistency awaits the youngster in the 2018-19 season, one in which Blasters will vie for their first ever trophy.