Up, Close and Personal with the ‘Bengal Posterboy’ Souvik Chakrabarty

Arijit Mukherjee  |  Tuff-Questions  |  1 Year Ago

A player who possesses this level of versatility besides being a one club man in both I-League and Indian Super League, is a rarity in today’s professional world. Here are the excerpts from Jersey’s one-on-one with the hardworking, Dani Alves of Indian football, the Bong “Vodrolok”, Souvik Chakraborty:



Jersey: Hi Souvik, thank you for sparing time to speak to us. Firstly tell your fans, coming from a family of educationist while your father being a doctor, How did football happen to you?

Souvik: Yes, my story is a little different from the others maybe, but it was all due to my first coach Ranjan Bhattacharya, who persuaded my dad to put me into football, making him understand that I have talent that needed to be encouraged. Though my family was not in full support of it, but my father led me to football. My dad had always been a strong pillar of support all throughout.



Jersey: Souvik, you are one footballer in the Indian circuit who has come from the ranks of Mohun Bagan right from the beginning. how did your journey start, is you family staunch Bagan supporters as well?

Souvik: No, my family is not much into football. It all happened at my first coaching camp in Jubo Jagaran club in Baranagar. Mohun Bagan conducted a camp for the under 13 and I got selected and that’s how my journey began. I went through the ranks from Under-13, then the Mohun Bagan SAIL Academy and now the senior team. I would say it was more destiny’s call then a planned move that I have always been with the oldest football club in India and it’s a true honour.



Jersey: Let’s get into a bit of ISL, you have stuck with Delhi Dynamos since beginning. Walk us through you experience sharing dressing room with some of the legends of the game, like Roberto Carlos, Alessandro Del Piero and Zambrotta?

Souvik: To be frank this has been a dream, just like Mohun Bagan all the three years of ISL I have been with Delhi Dynamos and I am the only player who has been a constant. First I played alongside Del Piero then I was coached by  the legends like Roberto Carlos and Zambrotta. I also played with another all-time great like Malouda. When you basically share the dressing room with these legends, it is a surreal experience to say the least.



Jersey: Playing alongside these greats, how do you find them as characters off the field?

Souvik: Oh! They are the gem of the people. We have always heard and read that great players are also great human beings, being alongside them has made me realise that in person. All of these legends have been wonderful human beings, down to earth, always helping and guiding us.

I do keep in touch with them sometimes, whenever I sign a new contract I keep them informed on Instagram and they duly reply to them. They have actually enhanced me not only as a footballer but also as a human being.



Jersey: Last three seasons with Mohun Bagan have been extremely fruitful for you as a team, though you did not win any titles this season, but overall the Mariners have been the most consistent side in the country, considering the last three seasons. The fans want to know Sanjoy Sen’s secret recipe.


Souvik: According to me the main reason for our consistency has been the club management retaining literally the same team for three seasons, which has built an inherent cohesion in the team. The support staffs have also remained the same and that has helped us immensely. One thing I must also add that everyone in the team from 1 to 30, all have loved the club and played for the team and there has been absolutely no discontent among the team, though many have not played regularly. The team spirit has been exemplary to say the least. We have reaped the benefits of this as well. The dressing room atmosphere in our team has been the best among all the clubs in India and everyone wanted to win, always.


Jersey: How has been your experience playing alongside the Bagan heartthrob Sony Norde in the last three seasons?

Souvik: Oh! Sony is an extremely good human being and a great team man. He always encourages everyone from senior to junior team member. He has been a true talisman for the team and obviously needless to say that he has been one of the best foreigner to play in India ever, and I am privileged to play alongside him for so long.



Jersey: Does your emotional connect with Mohun Bagan retains you every season?

Souvik: Obviously, I have played at Mohun Bagan right from my childhood, so I cannot lie though I am a professional footballer, there is an emotional string attached to the club and its numerous fans. It is literally my second home and it has been so right from my under 13 days. It’s been a long journey. I love being here and can’t think to go and settle elsewhere. 



Jersey: So, with the current scenario prevalent in Indian Football have you decided on where to sign, as your contract has expired with Mohun Bagan?

Souvik: To be frank, we have not taken any decision at all. The situation is not at all clear and so none of us is in the position to take a decision right now. Hope things would be clearer in a few days and then we would take an action then.




Jersey: The fans are eager to know, it can happen that you may have to choose between Mohun Bagan and Delhi Dynamos, who would you stick with, let’s say if Mohun Bagan comes calling with a longer and better contract?

Souvik: To be frank, it’s a tough question at this point of time. But let me clarify I will always have a soft corner for Mohun Bagan and leaving the club would be painful, but you never know what the future holds. Mohun Bagan would always have a bit of my preference and I cannot deny that. Everything I have gained has been due to this club.



Jersey: Souvik, take us through your thoughts and emotions about playing for the National Team one day.

Souvik: Everyone aspires to be a part of the National team, so do I. I always think about it and try to work harder and get better with my game so that someone knocks my door to take me to the national camp one day. I really have to improve more to get into the National side and I am working hard towards that goal.



Jersey: You have played most of the last two seasons at side backs, while you have mostly played in Central Midfield before you joined ISL, how tough was it to slot into a new role almost instantly?

Souvik: Initially it was tough as I have always been a midfielder, but slowly after some practise sessions I got adjusted to the new role. It was Carlos Sir who first made me play as a side-back and then Zambrotta sir continued utilising me at the side back roles and I hope I have done justice to the roles and these change positions have only increased my versatility.

Jersey: Last ISL season was your best season in ISL and exemplified in the left back role for the Dynamos. Zambrotta and Roberto Carlos were themselves the legendary full backs, so how was the experience working under them and was there any special tips for you when you played in that role?

Souvik: It was a wonderful learning experience, there were no special tips but after every practise session I would spend at least five minutes with the coaches separately to point out my flaws and help me get better. 




Jersey: Who were the closest players and with whom did you love playing the most in Delhi Dynamos?

Souvik: Kean Lewis was there with us but among Indians I loved playing with Anas Edathodika, while amongst the foreigners it was an honour playing with the legend Florent Malouda.



Jersey: Share your thoughts about the coach Sanjoy Sen, what has been his contribution to the success of Mohun Bagan?

Souvik: He has played one of the major roles in this team. He is an excellent Man manager, it has been all his credit that he had kept the whole team together throughout these three years and there has been no ego fights, infighting or any other issue when it comes to him. The club management has played their part in an excellent manner but the way Sanjoy Da has handled situations has been exemplary. I can safely say many high profile coaches would not have been able to manage such a big and star-studded team the way he has  been handling for the last three seasons. 



Jersey: There are lot of rumours and talks everywhere that Sanjoy Sen is arrogant and is defensive in his football. You have seen him closely for the last three seasons and know him better than most, you find the criticism to be true?

Souvik: To be frank he has been a thorough gentleman and we have never found him to be arrogant. On the contrary he has been a friend, philosopher and guide for many of us and has always treated us with respect and love. He has pragmatic approach towards football and always fielded his best team to win matches, but in a calculated manner. The rumours going around as per me are completely false as he has been very good with us.



Jersey: How is Souvik Chakraborty as a person, how is he outside football?

Souvik: I am actually very home sick, I don’t like partying much. Whenever I get time I spend it with my family, chat and relax with them, basically spend as much time as I can at home. Moreover, I have my school friends with whom I spend most of the time. In true North Kolkata spirit I am always spending time with my friends and going for “Adda” as is the norm in Kolkata. We have a spot where we regularly meet to chat, spend time and relax. I only hang out with people who have been close to me from a very young age.



Jersey: Have you found your buddies in the Mohun Bagan team?

Souvik: Firstly the whole team is a family now and we all are well-knit, cannot choose one from all of them, that would not do justice to the others. Also I would like to mention all the Bengalis in the team are also very well-knit. Debjit has been my roommate for the last three years. Then the whole gang of me, Debjit, Pranoy, Prabir, Shilton Da, Kingshuk Da, Pritam we all hang out together and have fun. But I would still say everyone in the team has been family right from Anas Bhai to Ballu Bhai.



Jersey: How about your experience with the Mohun Bagan fans, some words for their love for your day in and day out?

Souvik: To be frank, they are the reason we exist. Without our loyal and loving fans the club would not have been there neither any of us. Their unconditional love and passion gives us all the encouragement we need to grow and get better and play our hearts out for the club. I do not know about other clubs but let me tell you they are one of the most tolerant supporters in the country even when we have not performed to our potential, they have always stood by us, showered their unconditional love and I am seeing it from my very first day at the club when I was just a kid. They have been just outstanding and always acted as catalysts and a source of inspiration for us and they have been our biggest inspiration.



Jersey: What has been the role of Garcia for Mohun Bagan as a team?

Souvik: He has always been very committed, wonderful and darling of a person. His contribution for the team has been immense as he has made sure all of us be at our fittest even if we are not playing matches regularly. All the players have been given equal importance by him all through. His role has been equally important in our success in the last three years.



Jersey: Now that Souvik has become “The Souvik”, have your parents seen any of your matches at the ground?

Souvik: No, they have never been to the ground to watch me play but they do watch me on TV and encourages me every day and hopefully I have made them proud until now. It is all because of their blessings, love and encouragement.



Jersey: Have you ever thought of playing in Europe or abroad?

Souvik: I have never given a thought about it. My first and foremost aim is to improve by leaps and bounds and look to play for my country, that is my ultimate aim so seriously, I really do not think about anything else other than that.



Jersey: One last question Souvik, Indian club football is going through uncertain times, many people I have talked to endorse one league for the country instead of the afoot uncertainty. What are your thoughts?

Souvik: Obviously if we have one league that will be better. We may not have promotion and relegation initially like in Australia and MLS but one league would really help all stake-holders specially the footballers as many more footballers would be able to showcase their talent and everyone can play together. Footballers will have more matches to play just like abroad and maybe have a 16 or 18 teams in a league maybe.



Jersey: Thanks a lot Souvik for all your time and we wish you all the best for your future endeavours and hope to see you earn many more laurels in the coming days.

Souvik: Thank you so much!! It was a real pleasure and thanks for all your good wishes.




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