The 22-year-old spoke about playing in front of the Yellow Army faithful and ambitions going forward.

Highly-talented full-back Nishu Kumar has joined Kerala Blasters ahead of the upcoming Indian Super League campaign. Following some stellar displays for Bengaluru FC, Kerala decided to offer the youngster a lucrative four-year deal, making him the highest-paid Indian defender in the process.

The 22-year-old believes he has made the right call and has faith that the move will further his development as a player. “I think this was a difficult decision for me in my career, but it was important too. I think I made the right choice. Now, there are great players in the team, both young and experienced players, so I can learn more things. I already spoke to the coach and I think I can learn so many things that will help me develop in my future,” he said in a live Instagram session on the Kerala Blasters Army account.

His arrival has been met with plenty of excitement among the Kerala supporters, understandably so, given his performances in the last few years. Speaking about the fanfare and the accompanying pressure to deliver on the pitch, the defender said, “I can say there is some pressure. There are so many fans that are celebrating and wishing me. I have so much pressure on my shoulders to perform, but I will work hard to perform for them. I think it is great that I have so many well-wishers at the club. The fans are my strength.”

He also added that he doesn’t think about the tag of the highest-paid Indian defender. The new signing is versatile and can perform commendably in a number of roles. He talked about his slightly favoured position and the importance of full-backs in the current footballing landscape.

“I love to play on both flanks but if I have to choose one, I am right-footed so I am little bit comfortable on the right. But, in modern football, you have to give the coach two or three options. Full-back is one of the most important positions right now because we can help in attack and defence. So, it is a very important role in modern football.”

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He also opened up on his prior experience of playing in Kochi and lavished praise on the unrelenting Kerala support, revealing that it was nothing like he had ever experienced before.

“When I came to Kochi, I saw the full stadium was yellow, outside the stadium, it was the first time I saw so many supporters. That was amazing. I have been to different places for away matches, but in Kerala it has been a different experience for me. The fans are very passionate. On the ground, when we try to speak to our teammates, we cannot do it.”

However, it looks almost certain that games will be played in a single state and behind closed doors next term due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the defender won’t get the opportunity to play in the presence of the boisterous Kerala fanbase and feels a bit gutted for it.

“It is a very tough time going on. I feel a bit unlucky that I won’t play in front of the fans in my first season, but they will watch us on TV from home. It will not affect our performances, but we will miss them. Next year, I hope I can play in front of them and I am eagerly waiting.”

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Lastly, the defender feels that ‘the future of Indian football is bright’ and further highlighted the emergence of young players at different clubs as a huge positive. He also opened up on his own ambitions with both club and country.

“I want to be a regular member of the national team, that is my dream. It is one of my future tasks. Other is qualify for the AFC Champions League with Kerala Blasters. I want us (national team) to enter into the top five in Asia, that is a dream for the national team,” Nishu Kumar signed off.

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