From the streets of Malappuram, Kerala to the Hero Indian Super League (ISL), Ashique Kuruniyan has made it big. An athletic and powerful runner with the ball, Kuruniyan has displayed his quality whenever he has stepped on the pitch, representing clubs like FC Pune City, Bengaluru FC and now ATK Mohun Bagan in the Hero ISL. 

Starting his career at the Pune FC academy and then moving to FC Pune City, Kuruniyan made his professional debut at the age of 20 and he hasn't looked back. A training stint in Spain with Villarreal C helped the attacker to gain much-needed exposure. He made the move to Bengaluru FC in 2019 where he spent four seasons and changed base before the beginning of the current Hero ISL season, signing for ATK Mohun Bagan. Impressive performances in Hero ISL helped Kuruniyan cement a place in the Indian national team. The attacker made his debut for the Indian team in 2018 and he has been a regular member since.

"For me, football is my life. Football has made me the person I'm today," revealed Kuruniyan while speaking with Hero ISL.

Known for his versatility and adaptability, Kuruniyan is comfortable playing on either of the wings and can play as a full-back as well.

"Ashique is a typical left-side utility player. We know he can play as a full-back, he can play on the left side, he can play as a left winger. He has a great amount of ability and he can score goals. Here in India, he can be a big star, no questions about it. He has more ability than most," Commentator John Helm stated.

The Kerala-born forward has made more than 80 appearances in Hero ISL. The experience of playing under different coaches and in different systems has made Kuruniyan a crucial asset for both club and country.

"Kuruniyan can fit into any system, he can play left-wing, right-back, right-wing and a centre-back in one game," Hero ISL expert Paul Masefield said.

"He's a winger and he's an unbelievable winger. He can win you more games being on the other side of the pitch,'' commentator Anant Tyagi stated.

One of the trademarks of Kuruniyan is his lung-bursting runs on the wings. The attacker is amongst one of the fastest players in the league and displays an unmatched work ethic.

"I think he's like a horse, he runs for 90 minutes and he's very strong. He has the winning mentality which is a great asset for the team," said Liston Colaco, Kuruniyan's teammate at ATK Mohun Bagan.

"His crossing ability and getting inside the box is good and it's something that needs to be there for the team," Kiyan Nassiri stated.

ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando has shown trust in the attacker by handing him 17 appearances in his first season with the Mariners. Kuruniyan has been a threat to the opposition with his impeccable endurance which keeps him going till the last whistle.

"For me, the most important thing about Ashique is to help him in knowing his position on the pitch and to know when it's the moment to control or when he needs to press," Ferrando said.

Since his move to the Mariners from Bengaluru FC, Kuruniyan has taken a more attacking role as compared to his Bengaluru FC tenure. The 25-year-old has constantly displayed his ruthless ability to take on defenders and wreak havoc on the flanks this season. Kuruniyan has recorded one assist in the season while creating 12 chances in 17 matches.

"With ATK Mohun Bagan under Juan Ferrando, he has got that freedom upfront and you can always see a different Ashique Kuruniyan who's taking players on and he's such a powerful player and a difficult player to play against," former player and commentator Darren Caldeira said.

ATK Mohun Bagan have reached in the Hero ISL semi-final for a third season running. They will take on Hyderabad FC for a place in the final. Kuruniyan spoke about the team's objective and the Mariners are not far away from it. 

"In this ISL season as a team, we want to reach the final," Kuruniyan concluded.