As part of our NxGn India series, Goal takes a closer look at the most promising young talents in the country. Having revealed the ten potential stars who have found a place in this year's list, it's time for an in-depth peek at these players who could play a huge part in the country's future.
Next up is Indian Arrows' Gurkirat Singh who is making steady progress up the ranks despite his tender years.
Gurkirat has forced himself into the Arrows' starting XI then and again. Though he has made just seven appearances in the I-League over the last two seasons, the fact that he is only 16 tells a lot about his potential.
More importantly, it is his versatility that has caught the eye of his coaches. He was a defender at first for the India youth teams before playing this season as a striker up front. The fact that he can be of use in both penalty boxes makes him a useful option to have in the team.
He has shown that he is a good tackler as a defender before and was a key member of the India U16 side that reached the quarter-finals of the 2018 AFC U16 Championship. In fact, he can play all over the left wing. However, he is tall for his age and has utilised that physique whenever he has played upfront. It was Gurkirat who supplied the assist for Vikram Pratap Singh in Arrows' 1-1 draw against NEROCA FC earlier this year.
"I was a defender at first when I started at Arrows last season. I have also played as a forward," Gurkirat told Goal.
"The experience was great (playing in the I-League). Playing against good players is always a positive experience. Playing with the best coaches is great and our team had some great players. We got different experiences playing in different scenarios."
Gurkirat is a product of the famous Chandigarh Football Academy (CFA) - an establishment that has shaped the formative years of many regulars in India. He spent five years there honing his game before he was scouted into the India U16 set up by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
"I used to play in my village and loved playing football. Senior players in my village asked me to go and join a good academy.
"I went to Chandigarh to join CFA and my career started from there. I was there for almost five years. Then in 2017, I was selected for the India U16 team under Bibiano (Fernandes) sir. Then I joined Arrows last year and I’ve been continuing there ever since."
It was his performances for the India U16 side, especially in the 2018 AFC tournament where India were one step away from qualifying for the U17 World Cup, that threw light on his potential.
"It was a great tournament for us because it was the first time an Indian time had reached that stage after a long time. We played some really good teams like Iran, Indonesia, Vietnam etc. The competition was tough and we were really unlucky. I was a defender in that team. Bibiano sir helped me a lot when I came in," he explained.
Though he impressed in defence in that season, Floyd Pinto who was in charge of the Arrows in 2018-19 season saw potential in him as a forward.
"I was asked to play as a forward by Floyd sir. He told me to give it a try, playing as a forward. He told me it will be good for me. I tried and I felt it is a position I can play because in CFA also, I started as a forward."
The youngster is yet to hold down a regular spot in the starting XI at Arrows but given the fact that he is only 16, his time will only come. And judging by the way he has been progressing and the clarity of thought he has, a bright future awaits the Punjab-born lad.