Was a childhood dream to share dressing room with Sunil Chhetri: Prabir Das after signing for Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru FC’s new signing Prabir Das is thrilled to hit the ground running with his new club after securing a move with the Blues last week. Having spent a chunk of his footballing career with several Kolkata-based clubs, Das has found a new challenge in Bengaluru FC and aims to strengthen his game in new colours.

Terming BFC as his second home, the full-back is looking forward to training with his new squad and is curious to share the dressing room with Bengaluru FC and India legend Sunil Chhetri who he hails as an inspiration. The 28-year-old, who dreams to play for the national team, describes this opportunity as a chance to make his way into Igor Stimac's squad

Prior to the upcoming Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season, ISL Media Team spoke in length with Prabir Das about his recent move to Bengaluru FC, his footballing experience in Kolkata, and a lot more.

Here are the excerpts of Das’ interview:

What made up your mind to leave ATK Mohun Bagan for Bengaluru FC? And how was your first reaction to that?

I came to know about that [the move] before the second round of the AFC Cup. Generally, you tend to get emotional after being in your own city for a long time. I became emotionally attached with Bengali footballers in the last 5-6 years. Though it affected me, on the other hand, it was my professional obligation as well. Honestly, I was just coming back to a better shape with ATK Mohun Bagan. I could have improved myself with this team and coach. But at this juncture, I have to join another set up, and that’s what happens in professional football.

I came across that Bengaluru FC have shown a fair amount of interest in me for which I’m grateful. At the end of the day, a player needs respect and honour. From that point of view, I like this move. As a professional, I have to adapt well and accept what lies ahead for me.

You will be sharing the dressing room with Indian icon Sunil Chhetri. What is your take on it?

Oh yes! It’s a dream come true for me. It was my childhood dream to share the dressing room with Sunil bhai. Performing in matches and training with a legend like him is every footballer’s wish. Fortunately, I am going to get that opportunity. I have a lot to learn from him and Gurpreet bhai. I never got the opportunity to sit with Sunil bhai for a long time. I hope I will get the chance to have a chat with him, and he will share his experience with me, which is going to be my treasure. I want to know how he keeps himself fit and fine after playing at the highest level for more than 20 years. Can’t wait to see him and talk to him during BFC training.

How was your journey in Kolkata over the past 6-7 years? Can you name some of your most precious memories with Mohun Bagan AC, ATK FC, and ATK Mohun Bagan?

Mohun Bagan AC was the most memorable phase of my career because they were the only ones who had an offer for me at that difficult time in 2015-16. Nobody, except them, was ready to take me. By signing for them, I began to perform well. In that year, we won the Federation Cup though I couldn’t take part in that triumph.

Then I joined ATK FC and became the ISL Champion which was also a memorable event in my career. When I heard that ATK and Mohun Bagan were going to merge and take part in ISL, it was great news for me. I was overwhelmed to imagine the old green and maroon jersey with my name and number. Finally when I laid my hands on the jersey, I was remarkably emotional and excited. To be in the playing XI and play in those colours was yet another memorable memory for me.

Also Read: Through a longer calendar, the younger players will now have a pathway to the national team: Former HFC head coach Phil Brown

Now it’s time to shift to another city, another family, far away from your own family. Will you be able to adapt easily?

I had been far from my family since 2007 during my academy days in Bokaro and Asansol. Then I came to Kolkata and joined Pailan Arrows, before playing for Dempo SC, FC Goa, and Delhi Dynamos. I was fortunate enough to play for my home clubs for a long period of time. Now, going to Bengaluru is not new to me at all.

It’s like my second home because during my ATK years, I had to go through a long rehab here for almost a year, after which I returned back to football and became an ISL champion. That’s why, this city has a special corner in my heart. Hence, I am not going to face any problem here. I can definitely adapt to these changes as I’ve always done. This isn’t a challenge at all for me. The challenge is to perform well and get a permanent place in the playing XI.  

Simon Grayson is the new head coach of BFC. What are your expectations from him given his experience in the Premier League as a player & coach?

It's really going to be a great experience. I was under another British coach in the early phase of my career. The club must have decided to bring a great coach for us. My aim is to give my best in whatever is asked of me and follow the instructions given by him which I’ve always tried to maintain throughout my career. I haven’t had a word with the new coach and I’m waiting to get in touch with him.  

What is your take on India’s recent success in the Asian Cup 2023 qualifying round? How hopeful are you about India’s success in finals?

It's a great success. As the qualifying matches happened in Kolkata, the Bengali fans were there in the Salt Lake stadium to shout for the Indian team. And our players gave everything to achieve the feat in every match. Our players have to maintain consistency in finals too. If they have to be successful in the Asian Cup then they need to keep the same momentum or even more. If they believe in themselves, then our team will reach a historic position. We have a good coach and have to place our faith in him. Despite losing friendly matches before the qualifying rounds, our boys did a marvellous job in Kolkata.    

As you still have a lot of football within yourself, do you still dream of donning the national team jersey?

Why not? If I can improve myself, I can play for India. I will be hopeful till the last day of my career and that will remain my motivation forever. There are some inadequacies in my game which I have discussed with my coaches. If I can rectify them, why can’t I get a call from the Indian team? Ultimately, if I don’t get a national team callup, I will still be content with my career.

What will be your message for the fans before leaving for Bengaluru?

The fans have given me plenty of love. In my last match [for ATK Mohun Bagan] in Kolkata, I realised it again. I have received immense love from all the supporters since 2016. That is also a reason why I am so happy in my career. Thanks to each fan for their love, I am obliged to them. Now, I have to go to another city to give more joy to fans over there, but Bengal fans will forever be in my heart.

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