Rahim Ali wanted to be a cricketer. But hailing from a family which struggled financially, his dreams underwent a change at a very young age.
But fueled by the dream to become a top athlete, he would accompany his elder brother Akbar Ali to practice with the East Bengal U14 side.
"Cricket is an expensive game. It requires a lot of money to buy kits and all. Then you have to wait for the ball to be hit towards you while you are fielding. Hence, even though I liked cricket, I managed to make myself understand that at the end of the day football is more interesting," revealed Ali to Goal.
He could not break through the U14 national team at the first instance. But that did not deter him from his aim of becoming a professional footballer. He continued to practice with the East Bengal junior side for a year before joining Mohun Bagan's U16 side.
"Amiyo (Ghosh) Sir helped me become a better footballer. I learnt a lot during my time in Bagan. At the U16 nationals in Cuttack I scored four goals in three matches and since then I have never looked back," says Ali with resolve.
With two I-League seasons already under his belt, the Barrackpore-born striker has got some crucial experience. Co-incidentally, in the previous I-League season his best performance was against Mohun Bagan when he provided the assist to Rahul KP in a match that ended 1-1.
"It was a wonderful feeling to assist Rahul against my former team. My family was there in the stands. I still practice in Mohun Bagan whenever I am in Kolkata. But not only against Mohun Bagan I give my 100% in every match. Every match is important and I take it as a final."
Indian Arrows coach Floyd Pinto has used him in a variety of positions and Rahim has not disappointed. A self-critic, the teenager acknowledges that his finishing needs to improve and he is already putting in extra effort in training to sharpen his scoring skills.
"I am willing to play anywhere in a front three. Playing only as a striker limits opportunities for me. But my finishing needs to improve and I need to be more composed inside the box. I am working on these two aspects."
Rahim is not thinking of scoring goals if he gets to take the pitch at the international level.
"I do not know whether I will score or not but I am sure that I will give my all and perform well. It is important to put my best foot forward at the international level. If I can score nothing like it."
Ali is already a celebrated figure in Barrackpore but the teenager knows that his journey has just begun and there are miles left to be covered.
"Nobody can motivate you better than yourself. Playing for the senior team is the ultimate goal but I have to improve a lot to realise that dream," concludes Ali.