Danish Farooq - People in Jammu and Kashmir are very excited about the I-League

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Real Kashmir FC striker Danish Farooq wants to give a good account of himself this season in the I-League...

Real Kashmir forward Danish Farooq was inspired by his father, who was a professional footballer at least two decades back. Farooq Ahmed represented the Jammu and Kashmir state team in Santosh Trophy and also played for Kolkata giants Mohammedan Sporting.

Being the son of a footballer, Danish took to the game naturally at a young age. Speaking to Goal about his early years, Danish said, “My father Farooq Ahmed was a professional football player. I started playing very early. I used to go with him to his practice sessions. He has played for State Transport Corporation and in Kolkata for Mohammedan Sporting Club. He also used to play as a striker.”

On being asked if he would follow his father’s path and come to Kolkata one day, he quipped, “Yes, Kolkata clubs are really big. Who doesn’t want to play for them? I want to play the Kolkata Derby match one day.”

Danish joined J&K Bank Football academy when he was 14 years old. After spending two years at the academy, he was promoted to their senior team and eventually was named their captain. He spent four seasons there before joining Real Kashmir in 2016.

“At the age of 14, I joined J&K Bank Football Academy. I played there for two seasons and then got promoted to the senior team,” he mentioned.

Danish clearly stated that he dreams of playing in the Indian Super League (ISL) in future and also represent the national side. But he also clarified that he would love to stay back at Real Kashmir for another season and get the experience of playing I-League matches in front of home fans.

He said, “My target is to play in the ISL and in the national team in future. I have been in talks with a few ISL clubs but this season I want to play for my home club. I want to see how our fans will react to us being in the I-League.”

Real Kashmir scripted history by winning the Second Division League and become the first team from Jammu and Kashmir to play in the top division.

When asked about the mood amongst the local fans, he replied, “For the first time in the history of I-League a club from Kashmir will take part. Everyone is very happy. The fans are excited. They will get to see big clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal play. It is a great feeling for everyone here.”

On Real Kashmir’s journey in the Second Division I-League and his experience of working under David Robertson, the striker said, “The Second Division journey started almost four months before the league. We worked really hard and this was a golden opportunity for us. We didn’t want to waste it. It was very difficult in the league but we were focused. We had only one target and that was to win the title.

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“The coach motivated us very well and his strategies worked perfectly for us. He is a very nice guy. He was always there as a friend. We had a friendly atmosphere in the team. He knows how to make his players happy and that’s why we got the results.”

Before signing off, Danish Farooq stated that he idolizes Cristiano Ronaldo whom he grew up watching and looks up to Indian captain Sunil Chhetri domestically.