‘Won’t ever forget that meeting’, Sahal recalls ‘special advice’ from Chhetri
Kerala Blasters FC midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad hailed the influence that Indian national team skipper Sunil Chhetri has had on his career during an interview with AIFF TV. The playmaker recollected some ‘special advice’ passed on by the talismanic striker to him as well as a few of his teammates, and Sahal believes that was the best guidance he has ever received.
“Once, he stopped me, Kamaljit (Singh), (Anirudh) Thapa, and Amarjit (Singh), and he gave us some special advice. That was the best advice. It was on how to become a professional player and nobody had ever said that to me so clearly before. I won’t ever forget that meeting which we had together. It was special for me. If you ask me about more experiences with him, I could mention so many. But this one was the best,” Sahal recalled.
Sahal had a solid 2018-19 campaign and was adjudged the ISL Emerging Player of the League that season. His strong performances earned him a call up to the national team and he also made his debut for the Blue Tigers in the Kings Cup. Sahal was a familiar face in the Blue Tigers’ squad for the World Cup qualifiers as well and shared an anecdote that involved Chhetri from his time with the national team.
“When I went to the national camp for the first time and was moving to the ground for practice, me and Sunil Chhetri were walking together, and he put his hand around my shoulder. He said, ‘Sahal, there’s nothing like pressure, nothing. And it’s just football. Do everything that you do for your club, don’t pressurize yourself at all,’” the 23-year-old midfielder shared.
While speaking about the upcoming Hero ISL season, Sahal said, “I am looking forward to the new season, as it’s been such a long time since the players saw each other. We at Kerala Blasters have a good squad, a good coach, there are positive vibes in the club right now and I can’t wait to get started with the new season.”
Having endured an underwhelming 2019-20 campaign, the Kochi giants have made some important signings in the off-season while retaining many of their key players, including Sahal. The Indian midfielder, who signed a contract extension with the club earlier this year, heaped praise on Kerala’s passionate supporters for sticking by them during tough times last season.
“When I came on to the pitch for the first time in Kochi, I could not hear the players speak amongst themselves. They (fans) provide us with their support irrespective of whether we win or lose, and they always keep us motivated. They are very special indeed. They made all the difference for me in my career, and I would like to be a part of their journey for the next five years,” Sahal said.