Suresh Wangjam explains how his father’s advice helped him join Bengaluru

One of the most talented youngsters in Indian football, Suresh Singh Wangjam impressed for Bengaluru FC during the limited opportunities he got to prove himself in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20. Competing for a spot in the starting XI, the 19-year-old midfielder made 11 appearances for the Blues last campaign and was voted Bengaluru’s 2019-20 Fans’ Player of the Season.

However, the move to Bengaluru may not have even happened had it not been for his father. “It was a very difficult decision to join Bengaluru FC last year since people advised me against the move as I wouldn’t be starting enough matches. But when I talked to my father, he said, ‘In life, you always get something when you take a risk’. After that, everything became clear,” Wangjam said in an interview with indianexpress.com.

Adapting to a new club and a new environment is never easy and it was difficult for Wangjam as well, although not for long. “When I came to Bengaluru, I was so lonely initially. I didn’t know anyone, and I felt intimidated by the senior players. But slowly, I started adapting and felt at home with the seniors’ welcoming gestures. To have players with more than 10 years of experience, like (Eugeneson Lyngdoh) Eugen-bhai and (Harmanjot Singh) Khabra-bhai, guide me on how to control the ball and how to shape my body for a pass was a big plus,” said Wangjam.

The gifted midfielder then expanded on some of the obstacles he had to face as a youngster trying to pursue a career in football, Wangjam said, “In my childhood, I wasn’t allowed to play football because I am the only son and it wasn’t a ‘proper job’. But I did manage to convince my father and soon found myself at the Bir Chandra Memorial Sports Club. From there, I represented Manipur, and got selected for India U-14s in 2014. Once I got selected for India U-17s, my family finally started supporting me.”

Much like every budding footballer, Wangjam also dreams of representing the national team. “Every footballer dreams to play for the national team, but I am not in a hurry. I want to make sure that once I get in, I stay there forever. Although I have regrets that I skipped the grassroots level which has hampered my development, I am working really hard right now to achieve my dream,” he said.

If Bengaluru FC’s director and owner Mr Parth Jindal’s comments are anything to go by, the 19-year-old’s national team ambitions will be realized sooner rather than later. “Our aim has always been that we have to create the next player. Now I am very excited about Suresh (Singh Wangjam), I think he will get a national team call-up anytime,” Mr Jindal said in a recent episode of Let’s Football Live session with Anant Tyagi.

The upcoming Hero ISL season will be crucial for Wangjam as he looks to kick on and cement a spot in the Blues’ starting line-up. He bagged one assist last season and will be expected to have more goal contributions in Hero ISL 2020-21.

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