NxGn India: Meet Rohit Danu - The livewire in attack brimming with potential

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Rohit Danu Indian Arrows I-League 2018-19
I-League
The young forward has had some setbacks with injuries but is finally finding his feet in the I-League...

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 the talented Indian Arrows forward Rohit Danu who is finally starting to showcase his immense potential.

The 17-year-old had a few injury issues at the start of this season but he has been a revelation after recovering and joining the Arrows squad midway through the campaign. In fact, his performances rejuvenated the Arrows' attack, highlighting why Danu is one of the most exciting upcoming talents in Indian football.

He played his first I-League match of the season only in late January this year after the injury but his combination play with the likes of Ayush Adhikari and Vikram Pratap Singh in the seven appearances he made was excellent.

"It’s always great to play with guys like Vikram and Ayush. We have good chemistry and understanding between us, and that really works well for us," the youngster told Goal.

Blessed with brilliant dribbling ability and a terrific first touch, Rohit's capabilities in front of goal has been well documented already last season. He became the youngest player ever (at the age of 16 years, 5 months and 27 days) to score a goal in the I-League when he found the net against Aizawl FC after coming on from the bench last season on 5th January 2019.

In fact, the youngster tallied four goals in 14 appearances in the 2018-19 season and can play all across the front three.

Danu owes a lot to his elder brother Naveen for inculcating a passion for football. "My elder brother was the one who helped steer my interests towards football, back when I was a kid.

"He would tell me about all the legendary footballers, and as a kid, I would be absolutely captivated by the stories."

Rohit Danu

The youngster, who hails from Uttarakhand, learnt the basics from a local coach before his potential was spotted. He started playing district and state-level tournaments and eventually, started representing his state in age group tournaments.

It was not long before the All India Football Federation (AIFF) scouts spotted him.

"I had started off with playing a local tournament in my district, back in my childhood days. Then one thing led to the other, and I went from the state to the national level competitions. After that, I got a call-up from AIFF to join the U14 national team camp, where I got to work on my game with the other top guys of my age from across the country.

"It is on the basis of that hard work, that today, I am playing for the Indian Arrows," he stated.

It has not always been plain sailing for him. Luis Norton de Matos, who coached the India U17 team in the 2017 U17 World Cup, was so impressed by him in the run-up to the tournament that he included him in the preparatory teams. But an ankle injury meant he was excluded from the final squad.

Rohit Danu

To add further misery, Danu missed India U16 side's 2018 AFC U16 Championship qualifiers due to the same injury. But India qualified for the main tournament in Malaysia and though Danu had recovered by that time, he could not take part because he was not registered for the qualifier, as per AFC norms.

India would go on to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament. But who knows what might have been had Danu also been a part of the side.

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"I was a bit disappointed to miss out on the AFC U-16 Championship, because I had put in a lot of hard work ahead of it, and then due to an injury I had to miss it. But that's part and parcel of any sport.

"What made me really happy is that the team played extremely well in that championship, and I’m really proud of what they all achieved out there in Malaysia."

To his credit, Danu has overcome such disappointments with his promising displays for the Arrows. He's still only 17 and the youngster has a big future ahead of him, judging by the interest he has generated whenever he plays.

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