Khel Now caught up with the Mohun Bagan midfielder, who gave his insights on life as a Mariner, what it meant playing for Delhi Dynamos and much more. . .

Souvik Chakrabarty has slowly grown into one of India’s most dependable midfielders and his superb show for Delhi Dynamos in the third season of the Indian Super League (ISL) showed why he’s rated so highly by Indian football fans. Chakrabarty played an amazing 14 games for Delhi last season, playing a total of 1260 minutes and helping Gianluca Zambrotta’s team to their first semi-final appearance.

The Mohun Bagan man has remained a Mariner throughout his life and has been a rock at the heart of their midfield for some time now. We started off by asking him about his introduction to football, to which he replied: “I started my football practice when I was in class 5.” He added, “My childhood coach Ranjan Bhattacharya took me to a local football club called Yuba Jagaran Coaching Centre”.

Chakraborty had started showing his talent early on in his career and also found the right guidance to go all the way. Talking about when he started to look at football as a career option, he said: “After 3-4 years of practice,  I got a chance in the Mohun Bagan Junior team. That was the time when Ranjan sir told me to take this is as a profession.”

Chakraborty had a stellar season for the capital side as he played various roles under Italian World Cup winner Gianluca Zambrotta.

With Chakraborty having played his entire youth career at Mohun Bagan, it’s quite fair to say that he’s a Mariner through and through. When asked about what’s so special about the club and playing for them, he said, “After playing for Mohun Bagan’s junior team, I got a chance at their academy and then the senior team. So you can say there is a soft corner for Mohun Bagan. That’s why Mohun Bagan is so special. There is a bond right from my childhood days.”

The midfielder had a short stint for Mumbai club Air India in 2012, playing 24 games and even scoring 4 goals for them. Talking about how much of a different experience it was for him playing in a new environment as compared to playing at Kolkata, he said, “Comparatively, there is a little less pressure to play outside Kolkata. In Kolkata, there are big expectations from plenty of die-hard supporters and there’s also a lot of  media pressure.”

Being a Kolkata boy, The Kolkata Derby is a massive occasion for someone like Chakraborty and we asked about how it feels to be a part of it, to which he answered, “The Kolkata Derby is always special. If you are a footballer and you are in Kolkata, you have to play the Derby before you leave football.” He went on to add, “Because personally, I think in front of one lakh people, you have to play and you have to win for your supporters. I can’t express the amazing feeling you get after winning.”

Chakraborty has always been adored by Mohun Bagan fans and the midfielder has not complained even when he’s not playing

Chakraborty has played under two legends in Gianluca Zambrotta and Roberto Carlos at Delhi Dynamos in the last two seasons. We asked about how different both their tactical approaches were, to which he replied, “Roberto Sir used to practice more with the ball and was very free outside the field as well. Zambrotta’s playing style is more tactical and he is a more reserved person than Roberto.”

When asked to choose who was the better manager to work with, he said: In the past two years, I have played with two great coaches. Both are legends, and are both very good human beings.”

We spoke to Chakraborty about how he’s looking to improve his game right now, to which he replied: “As a player, I have a lot to improve. In my opinion, I have to improve on everything to became a better player than what I am today. There is no limit to learning!”

Finally, we spoke on the highly debatable topic of the merger of the ISL and I-League and whether it will be good for Indian football. Chakraborty replied, “I think the I-league and ISL  merger will help Indian football.” Elaborating on the same, Souvik added, “Players will get more time in one league and will concentrate on football only. If there are two leagues there you have to adjust to coaches and a new system all over again.”

Souvik’s humility proves that the man is willing to put in the hard work and knows he has a long way to go.

He further added: “If the merger goes through, then the players will also get good money and there are more options as well because, in one league, there will be many more teams than what you have today. But then again, It’s my personal opinion.” he signed off with a smile.