ISL Season 8: The Indian Super League has always been a platform for young Indian footballers to thrive and take their game to the next level. While the spotlight has been on the likes of Liston Colaco, Sahal Abdul Samad and others, Imran Khan has quietly gone about his business. Follow all ISL 2021-22 LIVE updates only on InsideSport.IN
The Manipuri midfielder has been sensational for the Highlanders this season, especially since Federico Gallego’s injury. Imran got that freedom he enjoys and his vision and step have been immaculate. It has been combined very well with Deshorn Brown. Although they have not had much joy this season with the results, few players like Imran Khan, VP Suhair, Deshorn Brown have been highlighted by Khalid Jamil’s men.
for the love of the game
In a recent interview with the Indian Super League, Imran Khan shared how he started playing this beautiful game. shared how he didn’t have boots in those days, but kept going just for the love of the game.
2 vital assists! 🤌🏼
— NorthEast United FC (@NEUTdFC) December 29, 2021
“I started playing soccer when I was 13 years old. I had no boots and I used to play with my friends in a small town. It used to rain sometimes and I remember I didn’t have boots and only had a t-shirt back then. It had the number 7 written on the back with David Beckham’s name printed on it. He also had only one pair of shorts. I remember how scoring goals back then was a great feeling,” recalled the NorthEast United midfielder.
The 27-year-old enjoys all the glitz and glamour, but it wasn’t the same for him during his childhood. He came from a humble background and his mother was the sole breadwinner in his family. He shared that some nights they didn’t even have two meals. It was then that Imran decided to work hard and fight for his dreams.
“My mom and I were fighting a lot. I had to take responsibility. It was quite a difficult time for us. We went through a lot. When I was 10 years old we had no money. My mom used to sell vegetables. somehow we survived, we didn’t have two meals a day. So I told him that I would work hard and focus on my dream of playing football,” Imran revealed excitedly.
The midfielder from Manipuri decided to take charge of his life and joined local club SSU. His football career started from there as he highlighted his feeling upon receiving his first stipend. He said: “It was a big step for me, for my family, for my brother and also for my sisters. When I was 15-16 years old I joined SSU, a club based in Manipur. We played in the Manipur League and I got thirty thousand as salary and it was great at the time.”
Also read: ISL Season 8: Five reasons why Marcelinho Pereira could be a great signing for NorthEast United
As the saying goes: ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’, that has been the story of Imran Khan’s early struggle. Every difficulty that came his way only made him stronger. The support of his mother was his greatest strength and motivation to achieve great things in football.
“I fought a lot to get to this level,” Imran revealed. “It was never easy for me. I think that playing at this level is something very important for me and for my mom. Despite all the difficulties, she was always very supportive. She used to say ‘You should do what you want, I will always support you’. Just focus on your dreams and keep working hard.’”
Dream about wearing the colors of NorthEast United
Imran Khan had a brief stint at Mohun Bagan under the tutelage of Spanish coach Kibu Vicuña. He was very impressive in the handful of games he played. But then he returned to NEROCA for personal reasons. However, he continued his great form for the Manipuri side in the I-League and thus there were many suitors. But it was clear in his head that he wanted to join NorthEast United to represent his people. He revealed that it was never about money, but only about the passion he shares for the Highlanders.
“Every guy in this region dreams of playing for NorthEast United and that was my dream too,” Iman said with a twinkle in her eye. “When I got an offer from NorthEast United, I didn’t think too much about it, I just signed it. It’s not about the money for me, it’s about the passion. It’s about playing with the heart because I’m a guy from the Northeast. I wish to win the ISL trophy with NorthEast United FC. If we win the title, it will be a great moment for everyone in the Northeast region.”
Also read: ISL Season 8 Gold Glove Award: The Top Five Candidates to Win the Gold Glove Award This Season
ISL Finest Moment
Speaking about his best moment in his short ISL career, Imran pointed to his first goal for the Highlanders which he scored against Chennaiyin FC. He explained how he dedicated it to Federico Gallego, who was sidelined due to persistent injuries.
“It was when I scored my first ISL goal against Chennaiyin FC, it was a big moment for me. We were fighting for the playoffs and I dedicated the goal to my teammate Gallego. I was injured at the time, so I decided to dedicate the goal to him. I think this is my second family, so it was definitely the best time for me,” the 27-year-old said.
The former NEROCA midfielder, who has already recorded three assists this season in seven games, highlighted how happy his mother was when he scored his first ISL goal. It was like a moment of achievement for her, but Imran has no intention of stopping here as her mother always told her to dream big.
“My mother was amazed, she was very happy. She really enjoyed the moment. She always told me when I was a child that you have to work hard. She told me ‘this is nothing, you have to achieve great things’. You have to play for the national team,’” Imran narrated.
Thoughts on head coach Khalid Jamil
Lastly, he praised NorthEast United head coach Khalid Jamil. Imran highlighted Jamil’s selfless personality and the glue that binds the Highlanders together.
“The coach is a very good human being. He is always pushing people. He has always motivated me to do better in every game. He knows me very well, so he has an idea of my capabilities and wants me to contribute to the team. He is definitely one of the best coaches in the country. The best part is that he never takes credit for himself, he always gives credit to the players. But he is the one who unites the team at this level”, signed the talented midfielder.
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