Rahul Kannoly Praveen, popularly known as Rahul KP, has firmly established himself as a rising star in Indian football and is adored by fervent supporters of Kerala Blasters FC. He possesses a range of innate talents that are essential for any modern-day winger. Rahul exudes flair, unwavering tenacity, and a mesmerizing array of tricks required to succeed at the highest level. His exceptional speed, combined with the ability to proficiently dribble with both feet, sets him apart from many other players.

Although born in Thrissur, Kerala, Rahul has devoted half of his life to Goa, a state he fondly regards as his second home. As a lover of the ocean and someone who relishes activities such as fishing and diving, Goa is the perfect haven for him. However, for someone like Rahul, who has faced challenges throughout his life in pursuit of football, playing the sport is all that matters to him and anyone who has witnessed his performance on the pitch would never doubt his ability.

“Yes, 100% (football is the most important thing in my life), it's an easy answer for me. I'm sitting here today because of football, and everything I've achieved in my life so far is because of football,” Rahul said in the latest episode of ‘In the Stands’ hosted by Suyash Upadhyaya.

“I didn't come from a crazy family or a big background. I didn't have so many things behind me —nothing! It was all starting from zero. So, I had to work hard for myself, and my parents made significant sacrifices. (I'm also grateful) to my relatives, coaches, and teachers. (I have immense) respect for all of them,” he added.

Watch the full episode below:

The 23-year-old joined Kerala Blasters FC ahead of the 2019-20 season. He made his debut against Mumbai City FC in a 1-0 loss in October 2019 and scored his first goal for the club in November 2019 against Hyderabad FC in a 2-1 defeat, becoming the second youngest goalscorer for the club after Deependra Negi at that time.

Since then, Rahul has formed a strong connection with both the team and the passionate supporters. However, his love for Kerala Blasters extends beyond his time on the pitch; it dates back to the club's inception. He fondly reminisces about attending matches at the stadium during the FIFA U17 World Cup camps.

“When the ISL started, I was in the U17 World Cup camps. We used to go to the Fatorda Stadium to watch all these matches, and Kerala Blasters would come to play. I used to be a fanboy, and I still remember cheering for them. I was the only Mallu there, and everyone else was against me whenever Kerala Blasters played!” he shared.

The winger-forward was the only Keralite in India's 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup squad. He impressed everyone with his work ethic, temperament, and maturity at such a young age. Rahul now shares the story of how the call from Kerala Blasters came his way and the compelling reasons that led him to choose to sign with the Blasters.

“After the U17 World Cup, I got a call from Kerala Blasters, expressing their interest in signing me. This happened shortly after the U17 World Cup. However, the AIFF had different plans; I knew they (AIFF) wanted us to play in the I-League together. So that became the plan, and I spent two years playing in the I-League,” revealed Rahul.

“Again, I got an offer from Kerala Blasters, along with some other offers. I had to make a decision. I wanted to give it a try, come and play here, and see how it feels, (especially considering) their huge fanbase. It's also close to my home, I could make my parents even prouder. Personally, my parents are big fans of Kerala Blasters, so they wanted me to join here. I didn't overthink it; I just had a feeling inside me to sign with them,” he added further.

Rahul's breakthrough season with the Blasters came during the ISL 2020-21 season, where he scored three goals in 17 matches and earned accolades from the management for his promising runs down the right flank. His outstanding performance secured him a contract extension with the club, keeping him on board until 2025.

In the subsequent season, he spent most of his time recovering from a groin injury, but his return was remarkable, and he played a pivotal role. He even gave Kerala Blasters FC the lead in the ISL 2021-22 final, only for Sahil Tavora to shatter his hopes with a remarkable equalizer in the dying minutes, leading to the Blasters' defeat in a penalty shootout. For Rahul, the pain of losing that final hurts more than their exit from the ISL playoffs last season, where the game didn't conclude until the final whistle.

"You know, neither have we lost nor have we won. It's a crazy feeling as a footballer. Is there a feeling of 'What could've been?' Because you don't know if you'd continue playing that game. You never know what could've happened after that,” Rahul opined.

“For me, that feeling of 'what could have been' was happening in Goa because I scored in the final, and I can talk about that game and (say), 'Oh if we had won with my goal, you know, what could've been?' But this game against Bengaluru FC last season? I don't know because we still had to go to the semis, we still had to go to the final, and things like that. So, in the Goa game, I can say exactly what it could have been if we had won that game," he added.

Now, after coming close to winning the ISL Cup trophy on a couple of occasions, the winger-forward is determined to lift the trophy with Kerala Blasters FC and is willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

“I want to win with Kerala Blasters FC. I want to lift the ISL trophy. I want to do something like that, and I want to do crazy stuff. So, I want to learn and put that energy into the club now,” he concluded.