Was able to play for the national team only because of my performances in the NEUFC jersey: Forward VP Suhair

NorthEast United FC forward VP Suhair added quite the flair in an underwhelming season for the Highlanders, registering four goals and two assists in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season.

The Palakkad attacker, who played his second-ever Hero ISL season with NorthEast United FC, is content with his performances for the club, and is eager to prove himself moving forward. 

Earlier this year, the 29-year-old earned the merit to play for the National Team after he was called up for the friendlies against Bahrain and Belarus. Suhair hails his performances in the Highlanders' colours as the reason for him being called up to Igor Stimac's squad.

Ahead of the forthcoming Hero ISL 2022-23 season, Suhair speaks about his Hero ISL journey with NorthEast United FC, his connection with Malappuram, and a lot more in an exclusive interview with indiansuperleague.com

Here are the excerpts from the interview:  

How exciting is it for you as a player to play at NEUFC?

I got my first chance to play in the Hero ISL for NorthEast United FC. I played 38 matches for the Highlanders. All those matches were very exciting. Also, I was able to wear my dream India jersey only because of my performances in the NEUFC jersey. I was able to play 38 matches and score seven goals in the past two seasons. It should also be mentioned that the management and the fans will support us equally whether we are winning or losing. I am happy to play for North East United FC anytime.

How did Malappuram shape you into a better footballer?

I am from Palakkad. But I always had more connection with Malappuram. My house is on the border of Malappuram and Palakkad. I became part of professional football by playing Sevens football since I was young. Sevens football mostly happens on the Malappuram side. Therefore, I get more support from the people of Malappuram. People in Malappuram love football deeply. I get all the support for playing football from Malappuram.

How do you analyze the development of Indian football in this decade and ISL's role in it?

After the advent of the Hero ISL, football has reached more people in India. More people started watching the game on TV. First, everyone watched cricket on TV. After the launch of the Hero ISL, people started watching football too. Similarly, the facilities in the field related to football have increased. People started recognizing players like me wherever I am going. The Hero ISL has greatly influenced the growth of Indian football. This time India qualified for Asian Cup with historic performances. All this happened with the advent of the Hero Indian Super League.

How good is an increased number of matches (longer season) for the development of a player like you?

The main benefit of increasing the number of matches is that recovery will be better. Earlier, after a match, it was generally two or three days. In this situation, three days will become six days. This is very beneficial for recovery. Players will be fit. It will increase the team's achievements. Longer seasons are good for the players and the team.

A message to kids who dream of getting into football

Do anything well and sincerely. Pray well and have a goal in mind. We have to move forward keeping in mind that you want to play for India. This is the time when football gets more important. Then surely it won't be difficult to reach the goal.

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