The 24-year-old has been one of the most prominent performers in India in the last two years.
One of the best performers in the I-League as well as the Indian Super League (ISL) over the course of last two seasons, Michael Soosairaj could not get a call up to the national team, up until now. However, after the appoointment of Igor Stimac earlier this month, luck seems to have turned right in for 24-year-old, as Soosairaj now prepares to get into the squad for the upcoming King’s Cup in Thailand next month.
Watch: Michael Soosairaj’s media interaction ahead of King’s Cup
The road has not been easy for Michael Soosairaj. But now there are people all over the country who have started recognizing him, especially in his hometown. There are young budding footballers who are following the story and the footsteps of this midfielder. Although his role model has always been his brother, Michael Regin.
“My brother is my role model. He is also a footballer and he has also signed for ATK. He has been my role model since my childhood. He had a job so couldn’t come up but now he came over,” said Soosairaj who just signed for ATK for a five-year long contract along with his brother Regin.
Watch: Igor Stimac and Isac Doru’s first press conference
According to Soosairaj, the call up is crucial for him in this point of his career. “This is my first ever call up in the national camp. What to say, there were 37 fantastic players and at the end only 23 players get into the team. If I will get the chance or not, I will be happy with it. All the players are fantastic players,” he quipped.
The ATK forward revealed that after he received the call-up, he called Tim Cahill to inform him about it. The Australian legend wished him luck, to make it to the final 23-man squad. “First thing when I got the call-up, I informed Tim Cahill. He was really happy that I got the chance in the National Team. He wished me to get into the final 23.”
On the chances of being named in the final squad, Soosairaj stays optimistic of his chances. “I don’t have any pressure. First of all I am so happy that I got to the camp. I am happy to be in the 37 players who I have seen playing in the ISL and I-League, they all are great players. So, finally the team will be perfect, the 23.”
Watch: Indian football team trains under Igor Stimac
“One of my friends called me and told me that I am in the camp. And to meet Sunil Chhetri has been my best moment. Playing with him is my dream,” the 24-year-old revealed.
Soosairaj continued with all his praise for Chhetri as went on saying, “He used to motivate all the junior players like he will come and ask us to stay humble on and off the field,” Soosairaj said before adding, “He individually goes and talk to the players.”
Although there are several midfielders in the 31-man squad who are possibly fighting for seven or eight spots, Soosairaj is keeping the competition alive in his mind. “There are a lot of midfielders and all are great players but I have to worry for that because I have to beat each player,” he said.
Under the previous head coach of the Blue Tigers, Stephen Constantine, Soosairaj could not get a national team call-up, despite his string of marvellous performances. While asked about the newly appointed head coach, the midfielder sounded optimistic as he went on saying, “He is really a good guy, first of all. Everyday, we are learning new things from him. Like coordination, how to play first touch and all.”
“His style of playing is one-touch, two-touch coordination. Like when to attack and when to defend,” he added.
The ATK midfielder also revealed that Igor Stimac has adviced the squad to take proper rest before the tournament for the lack of time of preparation.
“He (Igor) said that we don’t have much time so he asked us to take proper rest and food and concentrate on the game.”
It has been less than six hours that ISL outfit ATK have announced to have secured the services of Michael Soosairaj and his brother, Michael Regin. The former Jamshedpur FC and Chennai City FC midfielder did not shy away from talking about his new club as he said, “Actually, I joined Kolkata because they approached me so well. And also, they approached my brother.”
“I want to play together,” he signed off with.