Souvik Chakrabarti, who impressed at right-back for Jamshedpur FC in the recently concluded Indian Super League (ISL), is not entirely happy with his performances after the team failed to reach the play-offs.
Jamshedpur FC finished fifth in the table and Souvik rued the team's slow start to the season.
"I had tried to give my best, but I am not at all satisfied with my individual performance," he told Goal in an exclusive chat. "I will try to rectify the mistakes committed.
"But I am grateful to Steve (Coppell) Sir, for believing in me and giving me so many opportunities. If we had not dropped so many points in the initial stages of the tournament we should have finished in the top four."
The 26-year-old is a versatile addition to any team, having played as an attacking midfielder, central midfielder and as a left-back during his senior career. He opened up on how he came to perform all these different roles at different stages of his career and also revealed that he is naturally a central midfielder.
"My natural position is that of a central midfielder. Karim (Bencherifa) Sir at Mohun Bagan used me as an attacking midfielder. Eelco (Schattorie) Sir at United SC also used me primarily as a central midfielder but on some occasions, I played as a right half or a right midfielder.
"But, Roberto Carlos (at Delhi Dynamos) changed my position from a midfielder to a right back during a friendly game in Sweden. At first, it was very difficult for me to adapt. But Carlos Sir helped me a lot as he spent time with me individually helping me understand the changes I need to incorporate into my game.
"Then next year (Gianluca) Zambrotta deployed me as a left back. He also helped me understand my new role with video sessions and by spending extra time on the pitch after every practice session. This year, I again played as a right back for Jamshedpur FC."
"I have played under many reputed coaches like Roberto Carlos, Zambrotta, Shubash Bhowmik, Sanjoy Sen, Subrata Bhattacharya. All of them have different footballing philosophies and are unique in their own way. But I would like to talk about Eelco Schhattorie, from whom I have benefited a lot individually. He helped me during a period when i was desperately trying to make a comeback. He guided me during one of my most difficult periods when I was trying to break into the big picture. I will remain always grateful to him."
Souvik has been a regular fixture at right-back and clocked 1620 minutes of football for the TATA Steel-owned team. He attributes his fitness levels to a strict diet regimen.
"I do not spend extra time in the gym. I just maintain a strict diet and focus on some particular exercises individually before a match day. The physical trainers have played a great part in keeping me in shape and injury-free."
Souvik had a passing accuracy of 77 per cent in the previous ISL season at Delhi Dynamos but has seen it drop to around 60 per cent now. But, a nonchalant Souvik puts it down to a change in managerial style at both clubs.
"If you look at at the build-up play last season in Delhi we used to play out from the back, make short passes and held more to the ball. But in Jamshedpur, we have adopted a more direct way to play, with more emphasis on long balls. So the tendency to miss pass increases in the latter system, which might be one explanation for the fall in passing accuracy."
Souvik went on to describe Florent Malouda, with whom he had a good understanding at Delhi Dynamos, as the best overseas player he has seen while also talking up Sony Norde.
"Florent Malouda is the best foreigner I have played with. His leadership qualities are unparalleled. I built a fantastic relationship with him. His ways of motivating the team after a loss were brilliant.
"Mohun Bagan's Sony Norde is also an outstanding leader. He leads from the front and has natural leadership qualities.These two players are extremely friendly and approachable and has guided me a lot."
Souvik hails from a family of Mohun Bagan fans but did not really find the support to take up the game professionally during his childhood
"My family was not at all supportive during my childhood and my mother did not want me to take up football seriously. My father was a little bit more positive. My first coach was Ranjan Bhattacharya. I started training under him and then went on to join Mohun Bagan U-13 and later shifted to Bagan's academy.
"Jahar Das, Luis Greco and Shyam Thapa helped a lot during my academy days where I spent four years.
"Playing in the Manchester Premier Cup was a fantastic experience. My first appearance for Bagan's senior team was through the U-19 quota against Kalighat. That remains a milestone in my career. I always wanted to play for Mohun Bagan as I belong to a ghoti family. I have grown up in a Bagan dominant locality. Since my first U-13 days I dreamt of wearing a Bagan jersey," said Souvik as he took us through his journey.
"The Kolkata Derby is a completely different match for Bengali players like us. We play this match with a different passion. You cannot expect a foreigner or any other player to feel the same way as we do. I have no qualms in accepting that there remains a strong undercurrent of tension until you get on the pitch. But things quickly settle down once the referee blows the whistle. You always try to outperform in this match individually as you are bound to be respected more if you perform in this match and also you never want to lose a derby."
Souvik goes on to describe winning the I-League in 2015 with Mohun Bagan when the Mariners scored a late equaliser at Bengaluru to pip Bengaluru FC to the title.
"May 31, 2015, will always be my most memorable moment as a player. We won the I-league in Bengaluru by scoring a late equaliser. I cannot explain that feeling in words. I will never forget that moment."
Despite success at club level, Souvik is yet to don the national team jersey, something that the player acknowledges and is eager to put right.
"I definitely want to break into the national team as quickly as possible. I have to wear the national colour as soon as I can. I am giving my 100 per cent to achieve that dream."