Seven months ago, a teary-eyed TP Rehenesh apologetically stood in front of the Kerala Blasters supporters who were present at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium after a heavy 6-3 defeat at the hands of Chennaiyin in Kochi.
The then Blasters head coach Eelco Schattorie had announced the Keralite as his first-choice goalkeeper even before Bilal Khan looked error-prone in goal at the start of the season. But Rehenesh also struggled as a Kerala Blasters player. He had a highly forgettable outing that day and the trend continued throughout a disappointing, injury-hit campaign.
Rehenesh, who has played for ONGC and Shillong Lajong in the early stages of his career, spent the first five seasons of the Indian Super League at NorthEast United. In six seasons of ISL, he has managed to notch up 62 appearances, a save percentage of 65.49 per cent and 15 clean sheets.
Other top-rated Indian goalkeepers, such as Gurpreet Singh and Amrinder Singh have recorded much better numbers during their time in the ISL but it could be argued that TP Rehenesh has rarely guarded his goal behind strong defences.
This must be one of the reasons why Jamshedpur came in with an offer to sign the 27-year-old custodian. After the departure of Subrata Paul, the Men of Steel have acquired Pawan Kumar and Rehenesh to boost their chances in between the sticks.
And it is no way a low risk move. From the club's point of view, replacing somebody like Paul was always going to be challenging, given the dearth in top goalkeepers in India. And Rehenesh's confidence will not be high after his last stint, so there is some amount of risk involved.
As for the player, it is a fresh start that he deserves. At Jamshedpur, he will be playing for the tactically astute Owen Coyle who led Chennaiyin to the final last season. Coyle helped several players at his former club to improve their displays after a poor start to the season under John Gregory. He came in and gave players the confidence and motivation they needed during what was a difficult period for the Marina Machans.
Rehenesh will also want to work on not making unforced errors. He has done it often in the last few years and the 3-6 loss to Chennaiyin in February 2020 was the latest of his nervous displays. And it has exposed what appears to be a weakness in his game. But it's something that can be worked on and definitely something that will be on the back on the goalkeeper's mind as he trains for the 2020-21 season.
Everybody deserves a fresh start and a new challenge when things don't go their way but in the cruel business that football can be, not everyone gets it. Rehenesh has, and he should make the most of it.