Jersey

Up, Close and Personal with the man behind the scenes Sonu Lamba

Neelam Sharma  |  Tuff-Questions  |  1 Year Ago

 

Not often we see someone from behind the scenes do the talking and everyone goes flabbergasted to know the facts coming from him. The sphere has found itself romanticising among just the stars and their avatars, but what about the ones who make a pair of legs, A Superstar? 

 

Breaking the stereotype, Jersey brings you someone who not only manages country’s most loved footballer, but is a true advisor and friend to the Indian Football team’s captain, Sunil Chhetri. Well, Sonu Lamba’s job as a Superstar’s agent/manager isn’t all flamboyant as it may seem like. Not all the time its all fun and games, meeting top brands or community recreation centres. Behind the scenes, its all business, that goes deeper and deeper to find the core of what the superstars fail to find for themselves. Sonu finds it absolutely imperative to develop a trustful relationship with the clients. You think its easy?

 

Here’s the excerpt from Jersey correspondent Neelam Sharma’s conversation with Sonu Lamba…

 

 

 

 

JERSEY: Sonu, we’d start off with a simple yet most trivial questions, how does it feel to manage the Superstar— Sunil Chhetri?

Sunil is an inspiration, not just to footballers but to everyone around and to say I am glad to be managing him will be an understatement. However, I get that sense of excitement with every player I manage. In fact I enjoy handling the youngsters far more than the experienced lot as it is very challenging. For me, all the players I manage are looked after with the same attachment. 

 

 

 

JERSEY: What pushed you into Sports management, coming out from the ranks of the flamboyant job, Merchant Navy?

I was in the merchant navy for 8 years, saw the world, earned good money for myself but I was never really happy. In 2013 my daughter Natalya was born and that moment I decided I would never go back to seas. Natalya gives me a lot of strength and motivation. I then decided that I’ll do something I love and player management, which had been a thought, finally happened. Anwar Ali was the first player I signed and sending him to Mumbai FC was my first ever deal.

 

 

JERSEY: When did you first realised you wanted to work in sports industry?

I knew it ever since I can recall. I was in APS DK in Delhi and our school gave lot of importance to sports and extracurricular activities. I was fairly average in studies but I was good at sports. After being in shipping in 8 years I realised one thing, that to attain happiness and satisfaction I needed to work in something that I love and sports was the answer.

 

 

JERSEY: Your take on the so-called merger / Monopoly of ISL in the Indian football sphere. If you have to change one thing in Indian football, what would it be? 

I have always been in the favour of one long league with a proper calendar for the national team. With the ISL and I-League running separately, the players started suffering a burn out, especially those who even played for the national team. Injuries became common and it wasn’t a nice thing to see. The two leagues running parallel has given rise to opportunity for more players and that’s always a good thing. Personally, I would love to see a 20-team league in the near future. 

 

 

JERSEY: You’ve often talk about the National team and its performances. Given an opportunity, who’d you name to coach the National team to take Indian football to the unprecedented success?

Coach Stephen Constantine is doing a brilliant job with the national team but now that you have asked me my choice with no restrictions, I would want Pep Guardiola to coach the side. He’s brilliant! 

 

 

JERSEY: Since you’re a manager/advisor to Sunil, what’s you advise for him to pursue after retirement, Coaching or Administration?

The choice is completely his. But there are many years before he even starts giving this a thought.

 

 

JERSEY: Similarly, what about the media: how helpful or unhelpful have they been to your job as a player manager? Has social media made things more open and consequently troublesome?

The media does play a key role but I’ve always advised the players who I manage to keep their down and work hard. There are days when the media is kind to you and there are days when they will rip you apart— you have to be ready for both. However, the media has played an important role in making players the household names and I hope the support only grows from here. 

 

 

JERSEY: How does the “Relationship” part factor works in Sports management business? Trust among the parties play a big role, isn’t it?

Trust is not a big factor, it is the only factor that the player-agent relationship works on. It’s more like a doctor-patient relationship. An agent needs to know everything about his player if he has to help him in the best possible way. 

 

 

JERSEY: Transfer windows in your opinion— Good or Bad? 

It is what we live for! 

 

 

JERSEY: Bigger clubs seem to want to invest in younger players. How different is it to advise a 16 year old who wants to be the next Sunil Chhetri? Are parents too close nowadays?

I always believe that if you want to shine like the sun, you have to burn like the sun. I run a small soccer school in Dwarka and I’m surrounded by a lot of young children who want to pursue their dreams of becoming professional footballers. And whenever I interact with their parents, who are always anxious about their child’s future as a footballer, the only advice I give them is to let their child enjoy the game. You can’t force things like these.

 

 

JERSEY: What is the most difficult or challenging part about being a player agent?

Gaining trust and understanding a player.

 

 

JERSEY: You represent a lot of very talented big name players including Sunil Chhetri, Balwant Singh and more. What goes into recruiting your more talented clients and what type of services do you feel they need in contrast to others?

I offer them a one-stop solution that’s based on honesty and dedication. Once I sign a player I give my heart and soul into working for him.  I choose my players very selectively. I want to sign characters and not just good players. It’s important to work with players I can trust and the kind who trust me back.

 

 

JERSEY: One last question, what are the main goals for your agency "Four Flags" or your “Clients”?

I’m not really into long-term goals. I believe in taking small steps and doing good work. Protecting the interests of my players is my primary aim. At the same time, taking care of what a club needs is also as important. Like I said, a lot of this works on trust. 

 

 

 

 






 

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