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Exclusive: Jay Gupta's remarkable journey continues; signs long-term contract extension with FC Goa

Published at :June 10, 2024 at 8:44 PM
Modified at :June 10, 2024 at 8:44 PM
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Ashish Negi

The young defender made his India debut against Kuwait on 6th June 2024.

Indian football faces many challenges, but one of the most pressing is the lack of quality competitive game-time for young players aged 16-20 in club football. Despite strong performances at the U-16 level, Indian players often struggle to maintain their growth when they reach the U-19 level. Pune-born Jay Gupta is a shining exception to this trend. At just 16, Gupta was playing for the now-defunct FC Pune City youth teams when he decided to leave India in search of better opportunities. He spent the next five years honing his skills in Portugal, with stints at G.D. Estoril Praia (2017-19), GDS Cascais U19 (2019-20) and Estoril B (2020-2022).

Rise at FC Goa

Jay Gupta was a success story for FC Goa under Manolo Márquez during the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season. He joined the club on a two-year deal before the start of the campaign and few expected him to make such a significant impact. By the end of the season, Jay had earned a call-up to the Indian football team from Igor Stimac. He had an outstanding campaign, winning the ISL Emerging Player of the Month award in October and becoming a fan-favourite not just among FC Goa supporters but also neutrals, thanks to his impressive playing style as a defender. Remarkably, he achieved this while playing out of position as a left-back.

“From the beginning itself, I came in as a centre-back for Manolo. As per the players that are already here, coach Manolo asked me if I would be open to the left-back position and I said I would want to discover that,” Jay Gupta shared during a media interaction.

Jay concluded the ISL 2023-24 season on a high note, making 25 appearances for FC Goa, securing nine clean-sheets, scoring two goals, providing three assists and creating 30 chances. His dynamic game included 1.64 successful tackles, 5.24 duels won and 5.92 recoveries per game.

Jay Gupta signs new three-year deal with FC Goa

His stellar performances did not go unnoticed, attracting interest from other clubs. In response, FC Goa decided to secure his services with a longer contract. Sources close to the development informed Khel Now, “FC Goa & Jay Gupta have agreed to a new contract which will keep him at the club until the end of the 2027-28 season. The club sees him as an important player for the upcoming seasons.

Future Prospects

If Gupta continues to work hard and heed the feedback from his coaches, he could become a formidable force in Indian football, both with his club and the national team. He possesses the attributes to contribute significantly both defensively and offensively.

Igor Stimac had high praise for the debutant Jay Gupta after the match against Kuwait, saying, “I think Jay did a great job for us tonight. That is another debut for the national team, but he’s a little bit timid. Gurpreet (Singh Sandhu) can continue how good he was in the training games, he was hammering everyone, going up and down and scoring and assisting.”

“Of course, a game like this is different, but there was nothing wrong about him tonight – he did everything he needed to – defending well and positioning himself well. He’s a player who can give us the energy that we need going forward. We have various options in Jay Gupta, whether we want to play three or four at the back. We need to be patient for him to gain more experience,” added Stimac.

Jay Gupta’s journey from Pune to Portugal and back to India is an inspiring tale of perseverance and dedication. His contract extension with FC Goa is a testament to his hard work and potential, promising a bright future for both him and Indian football.

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