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The full-back had to stay out for more than a season at ATK and then ATK Mohun Bagan before the offer came from East Bengal …
The transfer of Ankit Mukherjee from ATK Mohun Bagan to East Bengal in the January window greatly benefited the Reds and Golds as the club was until then struggling to find a suitable right-back in their ranks.
In the early stages of the league, coach Robbie Fowler had experimented with various players in that position on a trial and error basis. Until the arrival of Mukherjee, Surchandra Singh played mainly as a right-back or right-back, but the performance of the former Mumbai City player was not up to par as he was not a natural defender and felt more comfortable playing as a right-back.
But the transfer of the Bengali defender was not only beneficial to the club, it also helped the player to revive his own career. East Bengal’s offer brought life to the career of the defender who had played just one game in the last season and a half.
“I was very excited when I got the offer from East Bengal because I last played Steve Coppell at ATK. Last season when the team won the title, I didn’t have a lot of playing time, I played only one game. I was waiting for an opportunity. I was hoping to play a few games for ATK Mohun Bagan this season, but I didn’t have a chance, so when the offer came in, only one thing was on my mind and that was to deliver, “said the 24-year-old. Aim.
However, Mukherjee had no hard feelings towards his former employers as he fondly remembered the time spent at ATK and then ATK Mohun Bagan and suggested that it was a good learning process for him.
“When I joined ATK FC in 2018, I was overwhelmed. The players I’ve seen grow up were my teammates. Sanjay Sen selected me from Mohammedan Sporting. Only after joining ATK did I know what top-tier football was like in India. The way professional players work, their eating habits, discipline were things I learned while there. Also, I had played with an English coach (Coppell), so I knew what an English coach (Fowler) would want from me. The transition was smooth. ”
He also thanked his senior professionals at the club who taught him the tricks of the trade.
“Last season I was able to play with players like Pritam Kotal and Prabir Das who play in my position. I learned a lot from my elders. This year at ATK Mohun Bagan, I trained with Sandesh Jhingan, who also taught me a lot. So overall, I enjoyed my time there and learned a lot, ”added Mukherjee.
The former Mohammedan Sporting defender suggested that he was very excited to be working with Robbie Fowler and that his experience so far has been splendid. Despite being a superstar as a player, Mukherjee feels that he treats each player with humility.
Of course, I really wanted to play with him (Robbie Fowler). He is a legend of the game. He is a great player and also a very good human being. Despite being such an important player, he treats us with the greatest humility ”.
Mukherjee also added: “He always guides us and shares important tips to improve our game. In addition, it is very accessible. He always tells us that if we have a problem on and off the pitch, we can approach him and tell him at any time ”.
Following their clash against Hyderabad on Friday, the Reds and Golds will face arch rivals ATK Mohun Bagan in the second derby of the season in Kolkata on February 19.
All aspiring footballers and especially Bengali footballers dream of playing the Calcutta derby which is the most important match in Indian football. Ankit is also excited to make his derby debut, but also mentioned that he doesn’t feel any additional pressure before the big game.
“Yes, I am excited about the Kolkata derby but I don’t feel any pressure. Of course, it is the dream of every footballer to play the derby. It is a special game but we will treat it like any other game and the focus will be the same, play well and win the game, ”said the East Bengal defender.