I try to keep myself as grounded as possible: ATK Mohun Bagan forward Kiyan Nassiri
Since the start of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL), numerous young Indian talents have graced the field. Among them, Kiyan Nassiri Giri has stood out by delivering an inspiring hat-trick against East Bengal FC in the Kolkata Derby during the 2021-22 season. This accomplishment has also earned him the distinction of being the first substitute to score a hat-trick in the Hero ISL.
The ATK Mohun Bagan forward has been excelling in Juan Ferrando's side since then. Following their triumph in the Hero ISL and securing a spot in the qualifying round of the AFC Cup, the 22-year-old is currently actively participating with the ATK Mohun Bagan youth side in the Premier League Next Generation Cup taking place in Mumbai.
Nassiri, an avid follower of the Premier League, expressed his delight in taking part in the tournament, which holds the potential to act as a stepping stone for aspiring young players to compete in top-flight football in the near future.
"I'm a Premier League follower, knowing that these boys will play in the top flight in the next 2-5 years is incredible. It is shocking that we are playing them, I'm happy to be here," an elated Nassiri told The Bridge in an interview.
The Kolkata-born footballer started his youth career with Mohammedan Sporting before transitioning to the youth set-up of Mohun Bagan AC. Under the tutelage of Kibu Vicuna, he made his senior debut and experienced his first taste of silverware.
Nassiri remained with the team and was promoted to the main squad ahead of the Hero ISL 2021-22 season.
“At the beginning, it was surreal when I was at Mohun Bagan in the Hero I-League, I was just there for two games during the whole season. Right now, since last year, that has changed. I don't get fazed by it. I try to keep myself as grounded as possible," he stated.
Kiyan Nassiri: 𝓡𝓮𝓶𝓮𝓶𝓫𝓮𝓻 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓷𝓪𝓶𝓮 🤩— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) January 30, 2022
The 21-year old came off the bench to seal a come-from-behind victory with a 𝓹𝓱𝓮𝓷𝓸𝓶𝓮𝓷𝓪𝓵 𝓱𝓪𝓽-𝓽𝓻𝓲𝓬𝓴 for @atkmohunbaganfc! 🔥#ATKMBSCEB #HeroISL #LetsFootball #KolkataDerby | @Kiyannassiri pic.twitter.com/1sexZL8lSm
Playing in the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) after two successful campaigns in top-flight football might appear uncanny to many, but for Nassiri, it is an opportunity to showcase all the knowledge and skills that he has acquired over the past two seasons.
"Obviously ISL is much more high-intensity, and the competition is higher. At the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL), it's more about using whatever I have learnt," Nassiri opined.
With players like Manvir Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan, and Liston Colaco ahead in the pecking order, Nassiri has faced challenges in securing a spot in the starting XI. Although he made 16 appearances in the Hero ISL this season, 14 of them were as a substitute.
Nassiri remains determined to continue working hard in training sessions and strive for more game time in the top division.
"It's all about doing well in training, the coach is there to see it. It's very competitive because I might play one day and then not play for the next week or month. I just need to turn that to my advantage and try to make a place in the team," Kiyan said.
The forward has been attracting plenty of attention since scoring the hat-trick against arch-rivals East Bengal FC.
When asked if that game marked the pinnacle of his career, a modest Kiyan replied: "Not really. For me, the high-of-the-hat trick lasted about a week. It's done and dusted now. It's not a great thing to think of the past all the time. It was okay, nothing great.”