Kerala Blasters FC star Sahal Abdul Samad feels that the Hero ISL 2021-22 unleashed the best version of him so far. The Indian playmaker grabbed attention after he was named the ‘Emerging Player’ in the Hero ISL 2018-19, but could not live up to the hype in the following two seasons.

However, Sahal made a remarkable comeback in the Hero ISL 2021-22, netting six times throughout the season, making him the first Indian player to achieve the feat for the Blasters. Most importantly, he struck at crucial moments, which shaped Kerala Blasters’ season and helped them to qualify for the semi-finals after a gap of four seasons.

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"In every way, this season was my best yet. The best part was how confident I felt. The trust shown in me by the coach and my teammates helped me play freely, I think that's why I could do so well. I hope next season is even better. Nothing changes. The hard work, the hustle, it all continues," said Sahal Abdul Samad, during an interview with The Bridge.

Sahal’s crucial strike in the first leg of the semi-final against Jamshedpur FC boosted the Blasters’ chances of making it to the pinnacle clash. But, according to him, the sensational volleyed goal in their second meeting against Mumbai City FC was the standout one. Apart from six goals, the Indian also provided an assist in the campaign.

"I'm still replaying it (the goal against Mumbai City FC) in my mind, I think it'll always be there. That was a special goal for me, it changed the whole atmosphere of the match,” stated the playmaker

After all the hard work, Sahal did not make an appearance in the Hero ISL 2021-22 final against Hyderabad FC due to an injury. Missing out on the silverware rubbed salt to the wound, as he witnessed a heartbreak from the sidelines. The only positive from the disappointing day was the bio-bubble life coming to a halt.

"The first thing I did after the bubble was broken was to leave the team hotel and meet my parents, who had come down to Goa to watch the final," added Sahal.

Sahal’s contract with the club runs till 2025, with him just four matches away from overtaking Sandesh Jhingan as the most capped player for the Hero ISL outfit. Even though he has been linked to quite a few clubs recently, including English side Blackburn Rovers, Sahal is not imagining life beyond Kerala Blasters FC.

"Kerala Blasters means everything to me. They spotted me at the Santosh Trophy and helped me become a good player. It would be great to go for a 2-3 week training stint with a club abroad at some point. But right now I'm a Blasters player,” expressed the Indian footballer.