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Anirudh Thapa: I’m not a natural talent, hard work has been the key

The Chennaiyin FC midfielder also spoke on how special was the AFC Asian Cup win against Thailand…

Anirudh Thapa is ranked amongst the best midfielders in India. At just 22, he already has 24 international caps to his name including three appearances at the AFC Asian Cup, the marquee competition of the continent. 

His consistency in the domestic circuit as well as on the international stage has made him one of the sought-after players in Indian football. His former teammate Henrique Sereno and even former India coach Stephen Constantine have opined that the youngster has the potential to play in Europe. 

But Thapa thinks that he is not god-gifted and his meteoric rise has been possible due to hard work and the guidance from his coaches under whom he has trained since his formative years. 

“I am not an inborn talent. I have had to work very hard. I thank my coaches for working so hard on me. My coach at St. Stephen’s Academy, Surinder Sir (Surinder Singh) helped me a lot. He taught me how to read a game as a midfielder. Next in the AIFF (All India Football Federation) academy, there were very good coaches. Gautam Sir (Gautam Ghosh) was there for a long time. He helped me immensely. 

“I feel blessed to have trained under him. He did amazing things during training. He knew how to deal with kids and treated everyone equally like a family. At Kalyani, he would set up friendly matches with senior teams and playing against them helped us a lot. The result did not matter but what I learnt still matter to me,” stated the player during an online chat session hosted by AIFF. 

Anirudh Thapa

Thapa spoke highly of his partner-in-crime in midfield, Pronay Halder. He termed him as the ‘destroyer’ whose presence allows him to play more freely. 

“He is a wonderful player. He sits in front of the two centre-backs which allows me to move up and contribute in attack. He is the destroyer in midfield as he breaks up opposition play.”

Thailand has been Thapa’s most preferred opponent as both his goals in an Indian jersey have come against the War Elephants. He recalls that the one he scored in the AFC Asian Cup will always be memorable as it came in one of the grandest stages in Asian football. 

“I watched on television in 2011 while India was playing in the AFC Asian Cup. I had no idea how to reach there. I just knew that one day that I must play in that tournament. Therefore, it was special in 2019. Singing the national anthem at the biggest stage was a great feeling. The match against Thailand will always be special as not only did I score but we won and the win came after so many years in an AFC tournament. Therefore it was a special moment,” commented the India international. 

The player is set to return to action with Chennaiyin FC when the Indian Super League (ISL) kicks off in late November. 


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