The Aizawl winger talks about his rise through the ranks, his drive for Ronaldinho and his love for Arijit Singh…

Jayesh Rane is a 23-year-old winger, probably the only real example of a right-footed inverted winger who prefers to play on the left in India. Cutting in at impressive pace, Rane has risen through the ranks of Mumbai FC and made his debut in an I-league game in 2012 against Salgaocar FC. The winger has made 20 appearances for Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super league, giving crucial contributions to the team which reached the final in the first installment and won in the second. Currently, Jayesh is playing a key role in Aizawl FC’s strong performances this season. 

Hailing from Mumbai, it would always be difficult to inculcate a habit of loving a different ball game other than cricket. A young Jayesh started playing football in school, but didn’t take up the sport professionally till college. Initially, the player wanted to become a doctor, but things changed when he joined college. Gradually, with his family’s incessant support, he joined Mumbai FC and this move saw a turnaround in his career.

Under Khalid Jamil, the midfielder who represented clubs like Mahindra United and Air India, Rane grew by leaps-and-bounds. The player understood discipline and the nitty-gritties of the game from the shrewd tactician. 

Being a cricket crazy nation and state (Maharashtra), it’s never easy for youngsters to take to football and there’s, more often than not, a story. There’s certainly one with Jayesh too. The winger re-affirms, “I used to play a lot of cricket initially, but I was better at football. Looking at my capabilities, I choose football.” Indian sportsters will always have cricket as a part of their story.

“My only inspiration was my uncle. He used to teach me and made me love the game! He used to play and I used to accompany him to the matches. (Amongst superstars) I used to watch Ronaldinho and tried to imitate him. I also give credit to my family. They’ve supported me a lot in my journey and are no less than an inspiration to me.”

Family values play a key part in such grueling journeys. Having made one such trip, Jayesh is very simple about his motto in life. The 23-year-old says, “Nothing worth having comes easy, so we should work hard to achieve it! That’s my motto in life”.

Jayesh has made himself a household name after some strong performances for Chennaiyin FC in ISL

Just at 23, Jayesh has seen a lot of exciting moments in his footballing career. The player has played for India U-23 and says scoring for them has been one of his best moments so far. Jayesh adds, “I think my happiest moment was when I scored for my country in the South Asian Games. Also, winning the second season of Indian Super League with Chennaiyin FC was a great moment for me.”

Playing for the Aizawl FC in this I-League season, Jayesh has seen his market grow as a player. Leading the team in the attacking third and on the creative aspect, we asked him about the season so far. Jayesh responded, “So far, it’s been pretty good. The team is doing well and (I) hope we continue the same ahead. We have been working hard for this and will continue to do so in the other matches. We’ve a good team and all the players are talented and experienced.” The Reds are on the third position in the league, behind Bengal giants Mohun Bagan only on Goal difference (currently).

India and football, till recent times, haven’t really gone hand-in-hand. When asked about his growth as a player in a country where a lot of talents fizzle out, Jayesh keeps it simple and thanks his coaches, “As I previously said, my motto is to work hard, so that’s what I do and will continue to. Also, the coaches I played under (Marco and Khalid) have always given me the confidence to do well.”

Khalid Jamil has been an influential role in his development, easily suggested by the way the player adores and respects the former Indian international. Asked about his views on Jamil, Rane responds, “He was a great player and now he is a great coach. He always likes to be on the winning side and that’s what I like and learn from him.”

The player has grown a lot over the few years and thanks his fans for being there and supporting him throughout. Jayesh has always been humble and adds, “Firstly, I would like to thank all of them (fans) for being so helpful in my journey. I’m nothing without my fans and they’ve always been loving and supportive. I’m lucky to have been loved wherever I’ve been, Mumbai, Chennai or Aizawl. I would just thank them and ask them to keep supporting me and I will do my best to keep all of you happy.”

Having seen his disciplined and hard-working schedule, we tried to take a sneak-peek into his personal tastes. Speaking about food, Jayesh shows his vibrant and yet, grounded style. The winger says, “My favourite food is Chinese and Ghar ka khana. I miss both of these when I’m out for matches!” We all have cheating days, and Rane sure has them in a minute way. We think he’s a romantic at heart, when he says, “I listen to all kinds of music, but I’m a fan of Arijit Singh!” With the moves he showcases on the field, KhelNow believes he would’ve been a fan of a certain Mike Jagger maybe.

Very close to his heart and dreams is a jersey he’s dying to put on, but he’s willing to work hard for it. Having played for India U-23 6 times, Rane sees himself as a winger in the senior team. The hopeful youngster added, “The Indian national team has done very well in recent times. Hope we keep this going. I hope to wear the Indian jersey soon. I like to play as a winger!” So, Mr. Constantine, are you listening?


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