Chennaiyin FC's young goalkeeper Samik Mitra mentioned how learning from his teammates and coaches has played a massive part in his development as a player. Mitra joined the club in 2017, signing up for the reserves side and worked his way up to the first team.

The Kolkata-born custodian had a breakthrough campaign in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season, recording 27 saves and keeping two clean sheets for his side across 10 games. Mitra said that he has learned immensely from Debjit Majumder and former Chennaiyin FC keeper Vishal Kaith while training with the duo for the past couple of seasons. He also credited first team players like captain Anirudh Thapa and Rahim Ali for improving his game.

“I have been with them (Debjit Majumder and Vishal Kaith) and I have especially seen Debjit Da from my childhood, because we both are Bengalis and I have seen him play with the big clubs and in big matches. And then coming here and playing with Vishal bhai, they helped me all the time off the field and even on the field with technical and tactical details. I try to copy all the good things that they do. I try to learn from them. They help me as well. They tell me if I am doing something wrong and that I should do it this way and then I try to implement that in my game,” the youngster said in an interview with Chennaiyin FC.

“Our goalkeeping coach Rajath da and the previous other goalkeeper coaches who have been here as well, Micky and there was Martin. They helped a lot through the Covid time, they helped me in the training sessions a lot and improved me. Obviously, the other players as well. Thapa is there. He is a big example for me. And then my friend Rahim is there. He plays in the national team and helps me out as well,” he further added.

After playing with the reserves, Mitra was included in Chennaiyin FC’s first team squad during the Hero ISL 2020-21 season, but didn’t get an opportunity that campaign. He made his Hero ISL debut the following season, playing just a solitary game.

At the start of the 2022-23 season, the Kolkata-born shot stopper wasn’t the first-choice keeper at the club, but he was handed his first start of the season in December 2022 in an away game against Mumbai City FC. Chennaiyin FC went down to the Islanders in that game, but Mitra put on an impressive show between the sticks, making six saves. From that point he established himself as the No. 1 goalkeeper under head coach Thomas Brdaric until the end of the season.

Having waited for his chance patiently on the sidelines for the past few Hero ISL season, Mitra revealed he was mentally prepared and eager to display his potential.

“When I was not playing or when I was not in the team, I was always ready mentally that whenever I get the chance, I will play. I will play and I will prove my worth that I can play. That was the whole thought process through the build up when I played against Mumbai City FC. Obviously, as a football player playing a match after a long time, one is a bit tensed and nervous at the start. But once you get in there, you get into that rhythm and you have the ball at your feet, you forget all those things and you just play,” he revealed.

Mitra, who took up goalkeeping having watched his father play as a keeper during his childhood days, spent his youth career with East Bengal FC and the AIFF Elite Academy. However, an injury saw him drop out of the squad while he was part of the Elite Academy. But Chennaiyin FC came calling after that setback for Mitra and he decided to take up the opportunity.

“My Chennaiyin FC story is a good one. I had an injury and had to leave the Indian U-19 team. From there I went for the TFA trials and then somehow I ended up back home. I was training at home only. I was pretty upset that I didn't get a chance in the U-19 teams as well,” he recalled.

“Then one night.. I think it was a Wednesday, I remember that. I went to the ground to play and to train. When I came back, my mother told me that there was a call from someone from Chennaiyin FC. I called them back and Chennaiyin FC offered me a contract. They gave me an offer and I thought this was a big step. Chennaiyin FC gave me a hand at that moment and helped me. They gave me a platform that I am sitting on right now,” Mitra further said.

Having been part of the senior team for three seasons now, Mitra is one of the many first-team players that is adored by the Chennaiyin FC faithful. He is also one of the few players who have climbed up to the first team from the reverse team. Mitra revealed how CFC fans have always been there to support him, ever since he joined the club in 2017.

“I have always got a lot of support from them right from the beginning. When I was in the B-Team as well they used to come to watch our matches. I have got a lot of support from them and they are absolutely fabulous,” Mitra stated.

Watch the full interview here: