From idolising Ronaldinho to starring for Jamshedpur FC: A look at Ritwik Das' journey
Ritwik Kumar Das has revolutionised his reputation from a young prodigy to one of the nation’s best wingers over the past couple of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) seasons.
Since joining Jamshedpur FC, Das has become a key player for the club, scoring important goals and also creating chances for his teammates. In his first season with the Red Miners, he scored four goals and provided one assist in 17 appearances, helping the club win their first-ever League Winners’ Shield.
His impressive performances have not gone unnoticed by national team coach Igor Stimac, and he was called up to the Indian national team in May 2022. But the winger had to withdraw from the camp following an injury.
Das’ performance in the 2022-23 season was also remarkable, as he scored 6 goals in 18 appearances. He finally made his debut for India on March 2023 against Myanmar.
In an exclusive interview with Jamshedpur FC, the Indian international opened up about his grassroots football story and revealed the player he admires the most.
“When I watched the FIFA World Cup in 2006, I saw Ronaldinho play. My father was watching the game and I was very young. Seeing Ronaldinho's game at that time made me fall in love with football,” Ritwik told Jamshedpur FC media team.
Das grew up in the city of Asansol and started playing football at a very young age. He was a talented player who started his journey with local teams before joining the Mohun Bagan Academy in Kolkata.
It was days of sacrifice as Das would travel for five hours every day from his hometown to Kolkata and come back as he pursued football as a career. The midfielder talked about his academy days and shared his remarkable transformation as a player.
“I started my professional youth career when I was 13 or 14 years old. I used to travel for five hours from Asansol to Kolkata with my mom, three to four days a week to attend the training session in Mohun Bagan Academy in Kolkata,” the winger stated.
Two years later, he started his professional journey in Kolkata where he played for Calcutta Customs and Kalighat Milan Sangha before being scouted by Real Kashmir FC.
“After spending two years in the Mohun Bagan Academy, I signed for Calcutta Customs and played two seasons there, one season in the first division of the Calcutta Football League (CFL), and one in the Premiere division of the Calcutta Football League (CFL),” Das said.
“Then I moved to Kalighat Milan Sangha, where I spent another two years before moving to Real Kashmir FC in the second division of the I-League. We won the I-League second division and got promoted to the I-League,” he added.
His career exploded into life five years ago when he scored two goals in three games in the second-division I-League playoffs to help his side earn a promotion to the Hero I-League.
“Winning the second division I-League with Real Kashmir FC was like a big step forward in my footballing career. It helped me a lot in every aspect of the game,” Das explained.
After spending three seasons at Real Kashmir FC, Ritwik caught the attention of the Hero ISL side Kerala Blasters FC. He joined them ahead of the 2020-21 season but his journey with the Blasters didn’t go as promised well as he moved to Jamshedpur FC in the following season.
He is currently in his second season with the Red Miners where he is living his dream. The 26-year-old was full of praise when he spoke about the facilities at the Tata Football Academy.
“What motivated me was the Tata Football Academy (TFA). It is the best academy in India and many legends of Indian football grew up here and that motivated me. The way we see football here is different, the professionalism, the facilities, everything is different,” he said.
The Asansol-born winger has developed into one of his club's most important players but says nothing would have been possible without his former coaches. He revealed his gratitude to his childhood coach.
“I’ve learnt from every coach I’ve worked with. They helped me a lot to reach this stage. Like my Sir, Chutka Da. I used to call him by that name, and he trained me every day on the ground. He is one of the greatest inspirations for me,” Das admitted.
Recalling his proudest moment as a football player he said: “The most memorable moment was winning the second division I-League and then winning the ISL League Winners’ Shield. To score that goal against ATK Mohun Bagan in the final league game, I just can’t express this in words, it was a great feeling.”
The midfielder has big ambitions as he aspires to reach new heights and establish himself more as a player.
“I'm living my dream now and I want to get more. I want to improve every day to bring out the best version of myself,” Das concluded.
Watch his full interview with Jamshedpur FC below: