The young forward was also part of the Indian side that participated in the SAFF Championships in September.
Only after a year of existence in the Indian Super League (ISL), it is already evident that Jamshedpur FC have been ringing all the right bells in the country. After a promising first season, the Men of Steel have put together an interesting team and have already started to get results. Khel Now had the opportunity to meet one of their most exciting players, Farukh Choudhary for a brief chat, where he opened up about his early days in football, the club’s debut campaign and his SAFF Cup outing with the national team among others.
We started the conversation by asking him to give us a flashback of his early days in the game as well as to share with us how he got into the sport. “I always used to love this sport from my early childhood days and used to play it back in my hometown in Ambarnath and after a few years, I joined a local football club called Diamonds FC,” Choudhary said.
“While playing there I also got the opportunity to represent Maharashtra which became a boon for me, as during the tournament, some selectors from the Pune FC Academy were there and they liked my style of play,” he continued.
“I was called in for a trial, in which I impressed them a lot and I finally got selected for the academy. After staying at the academy for more than a year, I signed my first professional senior contract with Lonestar Kashmir,” the striker quipped.
We asked him to tell us about his days at Lonestar Kashmir and where he headed to next, “While I was at Lonestar, I played the Santosh Trophy representing Jammu & Kashmir. In that tournament, I was scouted by Kerala Blasters. Then I joined them and the following season was my first season in the ISL,” he said narrating the sequence of events.
Choudhary was part of the India squad which took part in the SAFF Suzuki Championship in September
After playing one season at Kerala Blasters, Farukh joined erstwhile I-League side Mumbai FC on a one-year loan deal. Having played in both the Indian Super League and the I-league for a fair amount of time, we asked him whether he feels there’s a difference between the two leagues on the basis of competitiveness, quality of players and so on.
“There’s surely a difference in between the two. In the ISL the level of experience is much greater as a lot of foreigners play in it, who have played in some of the top football leagues in the world. Some have even represented their countries at the FIFA World Cup.”
“While on the other hand, the I-League is a bit more competitive, as it’s more of a rough style of play here, whereas in ISL the players are more composed,” he said.
Talking about his current club Jamshedpur, Choudhary was asked about his experience of playing for them and also his views on last season’s performance. “It was a good season for me, for my team. Also, I didn’t expect that a new club would have so many fans and we had a housefull almost every match. So, it was good to see such tremendous love and support from the fans, the Red Miners.”
“It was my second season with Steve Coppell as I also played under him at KBFC. So, he was a familiar figure for me and it helped me settle in quickly in my new team,” he revealed about the English tactician’s influence on him.
Speaking about last season’s performance he added,” The last two-three games of the season we lost quite a few points. We should have been more focused. The match against Bengaluru FC at Bhubaneshwar, then one against Chennaiyin FC where we managed only a draw, if we would have been more focused we could have got some better results from those matches and finally those dropped points cost us a position in the playoffs.”
Having recently played in the SAFF Cup, we inquired with him about his experience of playing in such a big competition and also how he felt about getting the opportunity to represent his nation on such a big stage.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life till date. Every footballer dreams to represent their country one day,” he started before adding, “It was amazing to learn so many new things at the national camp like the professionalism involved in this sport, the different training regimes, the diet and rest patterns, so as to keep yourself fit and agile. It was a total new experience for me.”
We further questioned him, whether what does he feel went wrong in the final against Maldives? “Well honestly, I think it was just a bad day for us and Maldives were really lucky. They just attacked thrice and out of that got two goals, whereas we attacked so much and could not get many returns,” he explained.
Choudhary is being regarded as one of the rising stars in Indian football
Having played in different cities like Mumbai, Kashmir, Kochi and now Jamshedpur- Choudhary was asked about his views on the city compared to others where he has played.
“The fans here are crazy and really love us. I knew that this city loves football before I came here, but neither me or any other player of the team expected so many of them turning up for our games and its really good to see so much love and support from them,” the forward said expressing his gratitude for the backing of the fans.
“Also, the Tata Group has a rich history in this field of sport. So, all these things combined together really makes this city, this club stand out from the rest,” he said.
Talking about Jamshedpur FC, we asked him the inevitable question about Tim Cahill and his influence on the team. The Socceroos legend has been one of the most talked about figures in Indian football since his arrival at JFC. “He’s a legend to us. He’s a really great striker and he’s also a great person on and off the field,” Choudary revealed.
“I as well as the other young players of the team really do benefit a lot from his presence in the team and since I am also a striker, I sometimes even try to shadow his movements, the way he moves, the way he makes runs. He’s an easily approachable person and he’s also very helpful. We all look up to him and consider him as our leader,” he said.
Wrapping up the interview, we asked Farukh about his expectations and personal targets for the upcoming season to which he replied, “I look forward to getting more minutes under my belt this season and help my team in whatsoever way possible. Also, as a personal target, I want to get some goals to my name this season.“