File Pic: Subrata Paul (TOI Photo)
KOLKATA: Subrata Paul might be out of contention for now but he hasn’t given up hope on making a comeback to the national team once again.
During an interview session with All India Football Federation (AIFF), Paul, better known as the Spiderman for his heroics during the 2011 Asia Cup, said he has no reason to lose hope after what current Indian coach Igor Stimac said last year.
“The coach said, ‘Whoever has an Indian passport can play in the Indian team’. So I believe if I work hard and perform then I will also get a callup. If I knew there’s nothing more I can do for my country, I would have retired from football by now but I believe I still have a lot to give and that motivates me to work harder. Also, if Gianluigi Buffon can continue to play at the age of 42, why can’t I play? I am not yet that old,” said Paul.
While he wished to play another Asia Cup, he reminisced about the 2011 tournament when Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer had asked for his jersey after the match.
“During that time, Schwarzer was playing in Fulham and it was a huge moment for me when he came and asked for my jersey. That incident taught me how important it is to be humble. Later, before the Bahrain match, I went to him and got his signature on his jersey,” he added.
Another player who was left awestruck by his performance during India’s match against Australia was Tim Cahill. Both Paul and Cahill later shared the dressing room during their days at Jamshedpur FC.
Asked by AIFF what he thought about Paul for the interaction, Cahill said: “He is an absolute gentleman and very humble. Highly committed and very professional on the field. In the game he is second to none. Lucky to have played with him in Jamshedpur FC. He was always working tirelessly before and after his training. For the youngsters, he has been a great idol. Hope he goes into coaching sometime.”
During the interview, Paul also spoke of how his life turned upside down after Cristiano Jr died following an on-field clash with Paul during the Federation Cup final between Mohun Bagan and Dempo.
“Few well-wishers, friends and family only stood by my side. There were people who started doubting me. I couldn’t train, couldn’t go outside my house since the people started looking at me like I was guilty. I was suspended from football for three months. Naturally I went into depression. But after FIFA gave me the clean chit and cleared me, I started training again,” said Subrata.
Although he lost valuable time and his place in the team, the incident made him mentally stronger and it taught him some very important lessons that he holds on to till today.