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 Vikram Pratap Singh who is attracting a lot of attention after some cutting edge performances in attack in the recent past.
The 18-year-old has had a brilliant season with the Arrows, making a difference in attack against experienced and physically stronger players in the I-League. While he made his debut for the Arrows in the 2018-19 season where he made 13 appearances and scored one goal, Vikram has stepped things up a notch this time.
In the 2019-20 season, he has made 14 appearances and has tallied four goals. The forward, who can play all across the front three, mainly prefers to operate from the right wing. He's got good dribbling ability and is hard to shake off the ball, something that makes him a dangerous player with the ball in the final third.
He scored in Arrows' 1-2 loss against Aizawl FC, before firing in the equaliser in a 1-1 draw against NEROCA FC. Vikram followed that up with a match winner in injury time against East Bengal. He scored against the Kolkata giants in the reverse leg as well but could not prevent his side from going down 1-3.
Though Arrows could only garner nine points from 16 games, their performances were competitive and deservedly acknowledged. Vikram's combination with fellow attack-minded players in Ayush Adhikari and Rohit Danu stood out as well.
"We got together only about 10 days before the I-League began. But slowly, gradually, our game started to get better as we played more. Against higher level players, we were only losing 1-1 or 1-0. We gave a tough fight to most of our opponents," Vikram told Goal.
"Our team was physically inferior and the other I-League teams had foreigners while our team did not have any. So to perform (against them) was the motivation. I think we were a bit less experienced. But we were not inferior in ability."
The youngster from Chandigarh has been in the radar of the Indian football fraternity ever since his India U16 days, thanks to some noteworthy performances in the exposure tours the team undertook in the lead up to the 2018 AFC U16 Championship.
His passion for football stemmed from his uncle who dreamt of making his nephew a renowned footballer. Chandigarh Football Academy (CFA), known to have kick-started the careers of many established players, was an obvious choice for Vikram's uncle to enroll him in.
With his uncle backing him to the hilt, the youngster progressed from strength to strength.
"I started football because of my uncle. He had a lot of interest in the game and he wanted to make me a footballer. He taught me about the game and he knew Chandigarh Football Academy was one of the best academies there was. He brought me there and I got selected. My uncle is the greatest influence in my career," gushed the teenager.
"From CFA, I had played against the U17 World Cup team in Goa. My captain was Amarjit Singh who went on to captain the Indian team in the 2017 India U17 World Cup. We did not get selected then."
But that slight setback did not stop Vikram from making it into the India team. He would be an integral part of the team that would fall just one step from qualifying for the 2019 U17 World Cup. Vikram scored the penalty in the opening match that helped India beat a strong Vietnam side and eventually qualify for the knockout stages.
"Then I went to play the nationals in Delhi. I was selected to the U16 India team from there. We went to the AFC U16 championship. We were under Bibiano (Fernandes) sir there and we reached the quarter-final stage where South Korea defeated us. Then I was brought into Arrows.
"When we went for tours with the India U16 side, we got a lot of confidence from the exposure of playing against foreigners and foreign teams. That helped develop my game," the former Punjab FC youth player stated.
Vikram's career has only just started. But he has made quite an impression already. If he can keep his head and improve his game, there are no bounds to his potential. Of course, there are more than a few I-League and Indian Super League (ISL) clubs after his signature already. But Vikram knows his priorities well enough.
"I need to improve a lot and at this age, I need to make sure I get playing time. It is very important to me. I will move only if I feel I will get to play more. My decision will be based on that."