Ashutosh Mehta is a name that football fans in Mumbai should be chanting. Instead, it’s people from Aizawl who are singing praises about Mehta. Mehta was key to the Aizawl FC winning the I-League this year. Excerpts from an interview:
How is it playing football in Aizawl?
Playing for Aizawl was an altogether a different experience: New place, new culture, new people, trying to get along were all experiences. Here, the people too, are involved in games and they follow football and are very fond of it.
Any challenges you faced as a Mumbai boy playing in the north-east?
I have been born and brought up in Mumbai. So yes, moving to a new place had its rough moments. There was a lot of communication problem, language differences were there and also people in there (Mizoram) don’t know much of English either. At the end what I believe is that football is the only language for every player on the field. That said, it was difficult to adapt but I’m settling in and it will take its time.
What was your first thought when you were offered a role at Aizawl?
You know my coach Khalid Jamil right, so I have always trained under him and he moved to Aizawl. He recommended me to the FC and asked me to there. Without having any second thought, I said yes. The salary I would be getting didn’t matter to me at all. Though I was getting a lot of offers from other clubs, I rejected them all.
You mean to say that if it was not for your coach Jamil, you wouldn’t have considered moving to Aizawl?
Absolutely not! In some cases, it’s the relationship and understanding between individuals that matter and nothing else and that’s what I and Jamil share. It was he who trusted me and gave me my first chance to play for Juniors.
Jayesh Rane and you have been the mainstays for Aizawl FC. How do you feel being on top?
It was the equal effort of everyone in the team, everyone contributed with the same level of energy, sweat and hard work for the title as we did, and it would be completely wrong for me and Jayesh to take away the credit of everyone.
Also, a big shout out to my trainers Arun Pokhriyal, Vinayak and Bhagwan. I have been training with them for four years now.
Does Jamil push the two of you harder?
The only difference was that we (Jayesh and me) are very close to Jamil basically he has only trained us for 14 years so he had some more extra expectations from us and we were just able to live up to his expectations at the correct time and fulfil everyone’s dream in Mizoram.
One thing you miss about Mumbai or Mumbai FC?
I have played in Mumbai and for Mumbai, it’s always going to have a special place in my heart no matter where I go, Mumbai is in my blood and it will always be.
Who is your football hero?
I’m a great admirer of Cristiano Ronaldo not because he is the best player but what I like about him is his hard work, his dedication and his fitness.
Ashutosh shows off his serious football skills for us in the video below. Check it out.