Amey Ranawade: Receiving message from Pep Guardiola was a magical experience

Those few minutes during the 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) final between Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan were indeed nightmarish -- to all intents and purposes. Mumbai City FC defender Amey Ranawade had a serious head injury just before the break and the concussion was so bad that players from both sides were visibly dismayed and prayed for his safety. Fans, who watched it on TV, prayed for his safety too.

And the prayers worked, thankfully. Ranawade was out of danger as he woke up the next day in hospital to a sea of heart-warming as well as congratulatory messages. From all the messages that Ranawade received, one, in particular, stood out. It was from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola who, at the behest of City Football Group (parent group of Manchester City as well as Mumbai City FC), sent a video message to the young defender.

 “Matlab, kya bolu mein [I mean, what can I say]? I don’t think I ever dreamt about something like this. Being an Indian footballer, I don’t think anyone can even think of getting a message from Pep personally. To see that the morning after a night like that was magical,” Hindustan Times quoted Ranawade as saying.        

Guardiola addressed him thus: “Amey, I’m Pep. First of all, congratulations on [winning] the league -- well deserved. I heard that you're having a concussion and you're in hospital. Hopefully, you can recover as soon as possible, you can get back home and celebrate this victory with your family, friends and team-mates. Stay safe, stay well and I wish you all the best.”

Talking about the night that had left Indian football fans extremely worried, Ranawade said: “To date, I don’t remember any of that; the doctors told me I never will because of the concussion. I was told I wanted to carry on playing. It was only the next morning that my friends, family and doctors told me what had happened.”

In the euphoria of triumph -- maiden Hero ISL trophy for Mumbai City FC -- Ranawade wasn’t forgotten by his team-mates as well as head coach Sergio Lobera. They all dedicated the trophy to him besides wishing him a speedy recovery in post-match interviews.

“When I woke up the next day, I saw those pictures and heard from my family what my team-mates had done, how everyone spoke about me. I was in tears. Such big players, such a big team and doing these things for me. To win the trophy with them, even if I wasn’t part of the celebrations, was a great feeling,” the 23-year-old said.  

Ranawade joined Mumbai City FC after featuring in just two matches for FC Goa in the 2019-20 season. Lobera as well as several important players too joined the Islanders ahead of the 2020-21 season having represented FC Goa the previous season.

“The last two seasons I didn’t get much game time. I gained a lot of experience this season. I learnt a lot playing with guys like [Mourtada] Fall, Hernan [Santana], [Ahmed] Jahouh. I was with them before but playing competitive matches in a league is totally different to training with them,” said Ranawade, who featured in 20 games for Mumbai City FC in 2020-21.

 “I knew even before joining Mumbai City FC what kind of football he [Lobera] likes and what I was expected to do. I love his style of play.”

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