The Jamshedpur FC forward opened up on his time in the ISL, India and more.

In the Indian Super League’s latest episode of Let’s Football Live, former India striker CK Vineeth joined popular Malayalam football commentator Shaiju Damodaran for a live video chat session on Instagram. During the interview that lasted nearly an hour, the former Kerala Blasters star who plied his trade with Jamshedpur FC last season was asked a host of questions by Damodaran.

Vineeth began by speaking about how he is spending his time, with football at a standstill all across the country. “For the past few weeks, I’ve been staying at home. It was difficult to cope with the lockdown in the first few days, but spending time with my son here has made life easier for me since. During my free time, I also help my father who is into farming,” he said.

“I also joined the COVID-19 helpline centre setup by the Government of Kerala in Kannur, so I have been working with them every day for the past three weeks. I didn’t go there today because I had this interview,” he added.

“To be honest, I’m yet to think about taking a professional approach to my career,” he said when asked about the exact moment when he knew he had to build a career in football. “But seriously, I began to think about a professional career in the game during my college days.”

“It was during those days that I realized that academics is not really my strong suit. So, after college, I joined Viva Kerala. From there I went to Prayag United, later joined Bengaluru FC and then Kerala Blasters. It was a step-by-step process. Nothing was planned, I just kept finding opportunities and that helped me in my career,” CK Vineeth explained.

“Back in 2014, I was at Bengaluru FC and we were playing in the I-League. Furthermore, we did not even know if it would actually happen or whether it would be a success,” he remembers the first time he heard about the ISL.

“Then, in 2015, when Kerala Blasters signed me (on loan) for the first time, that was when I had my first opportunity to play in the ISL. By then, the competition had already become a favourite among most fans in the country – and I suddenly had a desire to be a part of it too.”

During the course of the interview, Vineeth also revealed that he is a Liverpool FC fan. He then went on to state how that reflects in his family and household.

“My house has been named ‘Anfield’ and my son’s name (Ethan Steve) is based on the name of my favourite player, Steven Gerrard,” he revealed, before returning to the focal point of the conversation – his ISL career.

Damodaran asked him about the real reason behind his sudden departure from the Blasters in the second half of the 2018-19 season and the striker replied that he is as oblivious to the reasons as the fans themselves.

“Halfway through the 2018-19 season, we had a break in December and afterwards, I was all set to resume training with the Blasters, when I was informed that I have to leave for Chennai. I talked to my agent and clearly told him I did not want to go until the expiry of my contract and he informed the same to the club’s management,” he said.

“Later, my agent informed me that the club has not given me another choice, so I was forced to join Chennaiyin FC (on loan). At the end of the season, my then existing two-year contract with KBFC expired and I chose Jamshedpur FC from the host of new offers I had on the table,” he revealed.

A few months after the Jamshedpur FC move, Vineeth came back to haunt his former club in their own backyard. “I had always dreamt about scoring a goal like that at Kochi against the Blasters, but when it actually happened, it took some time for me to realize the gravity of the situation,” he said, while speaking about the goal.

“I started celebrating as usual and then it dawned on me that this was my home and it suddenly didn’t seem alright to celebrate. That’s why I stopped celebrating.”

Further, CK Vineeth also revealed that he is quite happy with the advancement the ISL has made over the years. “When speaking about ISL, the biggest point that I would like to make is about how the league has helped in raising the popularity of football among the masses. In Kerala especially, families now watch the daily ISL game at 7:30 pm instead of their favourite shows.”

“ISL’s popularity has resulted in most football matches becoming accessible to fans via television, in multiple regional and foreign languages. The world has hence begun to observe the growth of the sport in India, which in turn, leads to better foreign players coming to play in the country. Playing with these players has led to a growth in domestic talent and more foreign clubs are also interested in financial and developmental tie-ups with our teams,” he observed.

CK Vineeth made his debut for the Blue Tigers in February 2013, but managed to earn only seven caps. Despite that, he is not highly keen on a return to the international circuit.

“Returning to the national side is not much of a priority to me right now. I would love to get more chances to play good football, more than a chance to play for India. If I get to play the game well, if I prove my worth to the national selectors then chances with the Indian team will definitely come my way,” he said.

“I feel that over the past couple of years, I haven’t been able to play much. My calibre was not tested much as I did not get many opportunities. If that happens, I will naturally be in contention for selection to the Indian team once again – so I am preparing myself to play good football, rather than play for the country.”

Shaiju Damodaran was also quick to notify him about the latest word around the transfer rumour mill, linking him with a move to East Bengal. He then admitted that he is talking to the Kolkata-based giants, adding that it is not a done deal yet.

“Yes, I have entered talks with them, but nothing is official yet. I am in touch with a few clubs and East Bengal is one of them. It is being said that they would join the ISL next season and I am definitely talking to them right now. Let’s see,” CK Vineeth said.

Fans following the live video on Instagram also wanted to know about his favourite Indian player and ISL coach. “My idol in Indian football is definitely I.M. Vijayan,” the forward stated.

“His scissor-cut goal (for JCT FC in the final of the Scissors Cup in 1995) has played a crucial role in why I became a footballer. As for my favourite coach in the ISL, it has to be Eelco (Schattorie). Eelco has not coached me in the league, but I like him a lot. I also had the fortune of working closely with him when he was the coach at my former club, Prayag United.”

“I also like Steve Coppell, if I have to say another name,” CK Vineeth signed off.

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