The forward also thanked now defunct FC Pune City for giving him a chance to start his career there.

Ashique Kuruniyan sprang a major surprise when he left FC Pune City and opted to join Bengaluru FC. The latest star with the national team has plenty of talent and looks to take his game to the next level by playing with the champions. Ashique spoke to ISL Media ahead of the season.

Q. You are the newest darling of Indian football fans. How has it been with the national team?

Ashique Kuruniyan: Life with the national team has been amazing. Playing for my country is a big thing for me and my family. I am trying to keep my place in the team because there are a few changes being made after every game. I want to be (consistently) in the starting eleven.

Q. Your move to Bengaluru FC is also being talked about quite a lot…

Ashique Kuruniyan: My move to Bengaluru FC is a turning point for me, especially because I have signed here for four years. I believe staying at a club for a long spell will be very good for my career. You get to build a bond with the club and players around you. Having an opportunity to play in such a professional club like Bengaluru FC makes me really happy.

Q. You spent quite some time at the now-disbanded FC Pune City. Why did you opt to move?

Ashique Kuruniyan: FC Pune City was an important part of my footballing career. I came to Pune five years ago and as a kid I was in the Pune academy for two years and then I joined FC Pune City. I played in the ISL and got a chance to play with the national team with FC Pune City, so they have been a very important part of my career. I want to say thanks to them, to their fans, management and staff because they gave me a brilliant start to my career.

Q. Does Bengaluru FC’s rivalry with Kerala Blasters FC mean anything to you? What would it be to face Kerala Blasters FC in Kochi?

Ashique Kuruniyan: For me, Kerala is home. Will there be a time when I play for them? I don’t know, no one does. I am here for at least the next four years and I am focused on that. This is how football is and no one ever knows how things will turn out and anything can happen. I am very happy that there is a team from Kerala in the ISL because it gives me a chance to play in my home state. It’s important to have a team there because with the support they have, football will grow in the country, and the players get more confidence to play. The supporters of Kerala Blasters, Manjappada, and our fans here, West Block Blues, are two sets of very passionate people and their support for the teams really makes a difference during every game.

Q. How does it feel to be one of the most talked about young players in the country?

Ashique Kuruniyan: You get a lot of motivation when people talk about young players in such a manner. All young players who are coming through are so good on the ball, tough and fighting to get into the team, I have seen this in the team here at Bengaluru FC, where our reserve team players have so much quality. There are many young players coming up in India. As a young player myself, I know how much it motivates me when senior players talk to us or when coaches give us advice.