Arindam Bhattacharya — At home in East Bengal

For so long as Arindam Bhattacharya can keep in mind, generations of his household have supported East Bengal. Fate, nonetheless, by no means introduced Arindam to the Red and Gold brigade. He performed for Goa’s Churchill Brothers, Mumbai City, Bengaluru FC, Pune City and even ATK Mohun Bagan, however in some way by no means fairly discovered his technique to East Bengal.

Until 2021.

After profitable the Golden Glove final 12 months and ending runner-up with ATK Mohun Bagan, the veteran goalkeeper put pen to paper to hitch SC East Bengal for this Indian Super League season. He may even captain the aspect.

“After I left ATKMB it was very late and most groups had already chosen their goalkeepers. I didn’t have too many choices. I took time as a result of I knew I might signal simply earlier than the league started since I used to be a free participant. Until the final minute, I didn’t know the place I used to be going to play. I met the SCEB membership officers and needed to know their targets for the season.

“I needed to know in the event that they needed to win the league or simply kind a workforce and compete. They sounded bold and that motivated me. They mentioned they actually wish to win and can get a stable workforce in place. They stored their promise and we now have a superbly balanced workforce. Knowing that my senior Renedy Singh can be right here (as assistant coach) was an enormous issue. It was a last-minute choice, however I’m glad I made the proper choice,” Arindam says.

The assist from his household was one other driving pressure, he admits. “Since everyone at home supports East Bengal, that motivated me a little bit. I was motivated to play for SCEB even before since my father and grandfather were huge supporters of the club. I spoke to my uncle, who is also a massive supporter, and he said just consider SCEB, they’re a Bengali family (laughs). Now I feel like I am home after signing for SC East Bengal,” he says.

He provides that he’s conscious that the membership has its share of troubles and has received the clearance to play in the ISL just for this season, however that’s additionally how far he’s pondering. One season at a time, he says. “That didn’t bother me because anyway I wanted to sign for a year. All those issues are back room stuff, my job is to play. I was not planning on signing a long deal anywhere, I wanted to sign for one season and see where I stand after that. That’s the plan.”

The 31-year-old’s foray into goalkeeping was an opportunity encounter. He used to play soccer in the monsoons again in Khardah and on one such night, a senior requested him if he needed to play for the native workforce as a ’keeper. The coach there informed him he was tall and had the required attributes to be a goalkeeper, sowing the seed for his ambition. In a profession that has spanned over 15 years, he has gained each title there may be to win. He gained the I-League at 19 with Churchill Brothers and adopted it up with the Federation Cup and IFA Shield titles. He additionally lifted the Indian Super League title with ATK in the 2019-20 season. He guided ATK Mohun Bagan to the runner-up spot final season and picked up the Golden Glove award.

Continuous studying: Arindam Bhattacharya (left) feels he’s studying extra now than he did as an upcoming participant due to entry to higher coaches.   –  Focus Sports/ ISL


Despite such an illustrious and trophy-laden profession, Arindam feels he’s studying extra now than he did as an upcoming participant.

“We have access to better goalkeeping coaches now, which we did not have when I started playing. I am learning more now as a senior player than I did as a young player”.

“It was solely once we used to coach with the nationwide workforce that we had entry to an excellent coach in Marcus Pacheco. We used to study from him after which attempt to replicate that in our I-League days. Lalit Thapa and I’d prepare collectively and we used to go to the seashore and follow diving and gripping or do the identical after our follow periods on the bottom.

“We had nobody to push us. We didn’t know what to coach earlier than or after the sport. All we knew was we needed to push actually laborious as soon as per week however we didn’t know the way to try this by means of the week throughout the season, had no clue about that. We used to work laborious however didn’t know if we had been doing it proper. We would watch some coaching movies of Manuel Neuer or Gianluigi Buffon and attempt to imitate them. We needed to coach however didn’t have correct coaching. We learnt a whole lot of issues very late due to that. One good factor was we needed to work and we in some way managed to remain match and see by means of the seasons. We did a good job. Technically we weren’t very sharp as a result of no person taught us the technical facet of the sport again then, however we managed in some way,” he says with a wry smile.

He additionally feels that the artwork of goalkeeping has advanced drastically in India and so has the standard of soccer. “In the earlier days the goalkeeper would be between the posts and the defence would play a high-line and we did not maintain a backline, But now, it’s completely different — we have to be on our toes, maintain lines and maintain our body shape and shoulders throughout the 90 minutes. We need to ensure that we have one leg ahead and one leg behind and remain in an optimal position. Football has changed a lot and demands a lot of concentration from goalkeepers.”

He casually provides that generally he doesn’t get sleep after a sport of soccer. Arindam loves his espresso and his common pre-match routine is 2 pictures of espresso made by the espresso machine he carries every season. However, that’s not what retains him up. “I don’t get sleep after games because the concentration level needed in the game is so high! I am not all that physically tired but mentally I’m absolutely exhausted.”

Arindam had 10 clear sheets in the ISL final 12 months. But he maintains that doesn’t imply a lot. “I may not have conceded a goal but I may have made a lot of wrong decisions or maybe I conceded two goals but have not made wrong decisions. It can go either way. I can give you an example: last year Mumbai City’s Bartholomew Ogbeche scored a goal against me with a one-touch finish off Hugo Boumous’ pass. I watched the replay of that goal at least 30-40 times after the game for the next 5-6 days but I could not see what I could have done better to stop that goal. The only thing I could have done was to ask Pritam (Kotal) to stay a little closer to Ogbeche but he had to cover the other side too. These are small details. Sometimes you concede but don’t know what you could do there. There are those sweet goals that you can’t save. Sometimes, you don’t concede but make a lot of wrong decisions. You get satisfaction only when you make the right decisions. What gives me joy is making the right decisions game after game and being consistent.”

India has a proficient line of promising younger ‘keepers right now, together with the likes of Dheeraj Singh and Mohammad Nawaz. Arindam feels this crop is much extra proficient as they’ve entry to correct approach from their childhood.

“I was not half as talented as they are now. They do a lot of things that I could not do at that age because of the training and exposure they are getting. The things I learnt after finishing half of my career, they have learned as kids preparing for the FIFA U-17 World Cup! I am very happy for them. These young goalkeepers are sharper now and know what to do in terms of positioning, how to deal with the ball and how to be on their feet. They will make a lot of saves look easy because of good technique from childhood.”

When he was a teenager, Arindam seemed as much as the likes of Sandip Nandy and Subrata Paul. One of his greatest idols in the sport was German legend, Oliver Kahn. Seeing Kahn play towards Mohun Bagan again in 2011 is a reminiscence Arindam holds near his coronary heart.

“This was right before the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. I had come back to India because I had injured my shoulder. I went to the stadium one and a half hours before the game just to see Kahn’s warm-ups. The kicking was right and his gripping was so good — he did not lose one ball. After the warm-ups, a coach was kicking a few balls towards him. Kahn caught 10-12 and when it was over he punched the last ball casually and it reached the halfway line. I am not exaggerating! And this was at the Salt Lake stadium and I was like okay, this guy is a beast. I was too starstruck to follow anything else, I was just focussing on him. I will never forget how he punched the ball. That’s all I remember (laughs).”

“We have access to better goalkeeping coaches now, which we did not have when I started playing. I am learning more now as a senior player than I did as a young player”.

There are these candy targets that you could’t save. Sometimes, you don’t concede however make a whole lot of mistaken selections. You get satisfaction solely once you make the proper selections. What offers me pleasure is making the proper selections sport after sport and being constant.”

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