The 22-year-old was the first Indian to sign a professional contract in Spain when he penned a deal with La Liga side CD Leganes’ U-19 team.

Even before FC Goa’s new capture Ishan Pandita set a foot back on Indian soil to begin his career as a professional footballer back in his home country, there was much noise about the player. Football lovers had kept a keen eye on the youngster who had been learning his trade in Spain. After all, it’s not every day that an Indian player plies his trade in some of the most competitive leagues of the world.

We can safely say that the arrival of Ishan Pandita in India has caught the attention of many across the country. The intrigue behind his years in Spain finally erupted in the form of much excitement on the Social Media scene.

Everyone remains in anticipation as to what Pandita brings to the table on the field as the 22-year-old revs up his engine to have a go at the 2020/21 season of the Indian Super League in FC Goa colours. The intrigue further plays a part over here. Questions abound and abuzz. How is he like when we go beyond all that is written and what we anticipate within the confines of the football field?

We look at some details of his life and personality here.

5. Baby steps in the Philippines

The youngster, born in New Delhi had to move out to the Philippines when he was just three years old. There, a young Ishan met his first love, sports. Inducted into the British School of Manila, sports found it’s way into Ishan’s life very early on as he delved into football, athletics and swimming.

Swimming was his first choice, to begin with. However, in the years to come, football took over the centre stage as he moved back to India – this time in Bangalore.

4. Gothia Cup and trials in Sweden

Even after returning to India, Pandita’s footballing skills meant that he would continue turning up for the age-group team of Manila-based Makati Football Club. And in 2013, Makati won the honour to represent the Philippines in the Gothia Cup –  one of the most reputed international tournaments for youth teams from across the world.

The performances of Ishan Pandita in the competition helped him bag a trial at Swedish club IF Brommapojkarna, who have a proclaimed history for youth development.

3. Idolizing Liverpool FC

Growing up, Ishan Pandita became a fan of Liverpool and idolized the likes of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. In the years to come, he subsequently became a keen follower of Luis Suarez.

For his game, though, there is only one person that he looks up to for motivation, work ethic and other stuff he wants to achieve in his footballing career. That name is Cristiano Ronaldo.

2. Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Chennai Super Kings

As stated above, Ishan Pandita has always been drawn towards sports from childhood and that hasn’t changed much even now. Still an ardent follower of various sports, the youngster is also a big Cricket fan.

“Growing up, my room was filled with medals, trophies and certificates. Sports was the only thing that mattered to me,” exclaims Ishan.

The young forward was a big fan of Suresh Raina in his childhood days and in times to come, he became a keen follower of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Ishan is keenly following the IPL and is a CSK fan.

ALSO READ: Moving to Spain was the best decision, feels FC Goa’s Ishan Pandita

1. The Walter Pandiani influence

Ishan Pandita has already experienced his share of ups and downs in his short career. After a promising start to his career in Spain, he found the going tough during his spell at Club Gimnastic de Tarragona, who had signed him for the U-23 team, on a five-month contract.

He, however, bounced back when he signed up for Lorca FC last season. Under the watchful eyes of Walter Pandiani – an Uruguayan forward who made his name with Deportivo La Coruna, Osasuna and Espanyol among others,  he found his love for football return.

He sees Pandiani as a father-like figure. 

“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now. He changed me as a person, as a player,” says Pandita. “He was a striker as well, a legend in Spain. We would go after training and spend hours — just him, me and a goalkeeper. He’d teach me a few things, he’d be hard on me. He treated me like a son.”

For more updates, follow Khel Now on Twitter and join our community on Telegram.