ISL 2017: Forgotten star Ashim Biswas eyes redemption at Jamshedpur FC

From the next big thing in Indian football to playing in the second division, Goal takes a look at the journey of Ashim Biswas in Indian football...

Ashim Biswas, who used to be a familiar face for the Indian football fans during the first half of the last decade, is eyeing to make it big again at the highest stage of domestic league football, having signed for new entrants Jamshedpur FC for the upcoming season of Indian Super League (ISL).

The forward had spent his youth career with GRP Danapur, an army-side based at the small town of Danapur near Patna before coming to Kolkata in 2001, when he appeared for a trial at Tollygunge Agragami and got selected. Tollygunge, a small outfit based in South Kolkata, first used to be a feeder club for Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan before making an entry into the National Football League (NFL).

Biswas, who quickly made his name as a promising youngster, was lucky enough to play under the tutelage of legendary coach Amal Dutta at Agragami. He spent a couple of seasons there before catching the eyes of  the then Mohun Bagan coach Subrata Bhattacharya, who them brought him to the century-old club.

Even before he had donned the Green and Maroon jersey, Biswas broke into the Indian national team squad as a 20-year-old youngster. He was selected for the SAFF Championship 2003 in Bangladesh by coach Stephen Constantine as a replacement for Bhaichung Bhutia, who had missed out due to an injury.

Ashim grabbed this opportunity with both hands and made a mark in his very first international game. He was handed his debut in the second game of the competition, after the Blue Tigers suffered a humiliating loss against Pakistan in the first tie. Biswas opened the scoring on the half-hour mark and hit the net again in the 63rd minute to play a stellar role in the side's 4-0 victory against Afghanistan.

Only a couple of days later, he followed it up with an 88th minute equalising goal against Sri Lanka.

For the next two years, Biswas was a regular part of the Indian side and was touted to be one of the main contenders to be Bhaichung’s worthy successor. Ashim made his way into the elite section of Indian footballers way before his team-mate Sunil Chhetri, who is only eight months younger than him.

But like the ascent, the downfall too came very early in his career. After enjoying two highly successful seasons with Mohun Bagan, he left for Goa to join Salgaocar, only to be plagued by several injuries and had to return to Kolkata after two forgettable years.

Lack of regular playing minutes drifted Ashim away from the national side and new coach Bob Houghton had by then found a replacement in Sunil Chhetri, who was in good scoring form for the Mariners before joing JCT.

“I was crazy about the game. I never took my injuries seriously. As soon I used to recover from an injury, I used to start playing. Actually even I did not have much idea about all these things during that time," Biswas told Goal recalling his days in the sun.

Ashim Biswas

“We did not have the luxury of having a physiotherapist which every team has nowadays. I think not taking injuries seriously was the biggest mistake I made.”

Ashim was one of the breakaway stars in Constantine's first stintin India, but due to lack of guidance and sufficient knowledge he failed to make it big in Indian football.

“I do not regret anything. I believe this was my destiny, there is no point regretting anything,” added the veteran forward, who has also represented the likes of East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting and Southern Samity.

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The 33-year-old striker now finally has something to look up to at the fag end of his career, having been picked by ISL newbies Jamshedpur FC in the players’ draft.

 “I am training on my own. I am keeping myself fit so that I do not face any problems when the pre-season starts. I want to make a mark this time around,” he signed off.