Former India U-17 World Cup team striker and currently on contract with Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters Rahul KP, who has been making heads turn with his performances in the ongoing Hero ISL campaign spoke about his desire to “be the best player in India” and break the records set by the likes of Sunil Chhetri.
In a candid chat with AIFF TV, Rahul said: “I want to be the best in the country and I want to work hard for it, no matter what. Players who have created history, they are human too. For example, if Sunil Chhetri has scored so many goals for the country – I want to break that record. I want to keep it as a challenge for myself. If I keep my expectations low, then I am not going to reach anywhere.”
“If I keep my expectations high and work hard for it, I will get something out of it. Hard work never goes waste. I want to be the best player in India and I am going to do whatever it takes.”
When quizzed about what he regards as his strengths and weaknesses, the 20-year-old mentioned that it is a “challenge” for him to reach the level of the top players and follow their footsteps by carving out a legacy in the coming years.
“I am still a young player and I need to be what I want to. If I look at the players at the top level, like Sunil Chhetri, I can see that they have all created something beyond their history and they have a lot of records. My weakness is where I am right now and my strength is where I am going to be in the coming years.”
“My challenge is to be the best in the country and so, I have to look up to the players who are representing the country at the top level. So, I have to think where I am and if I am not even close to them, that’s my weakness,” Rahul declared.
An AIFF Academy youth development product, the youngster was a part of the India side that prepared for and took part in the FIFA U-17 World Cup India in 2017, and spent two years in the I-League with the AIFF’s developmental side Indian Arrows, making 37 appearances and scoring five goals.
“Looking back five years ago when we were getting ready for the World Cup, I had a lot more expectations than what I am doing right now. But, I also have to be happy with what I am doing because I control my life,” Rahul quipped.
“I want to go abroad and play there, and prove myself. I have the willingness to put in the hard work and I will do whatever it takes.”
Representing my nation and giving everything for India is also an aim I want to achieve in the near future. I have signed a 5-year contract with my club and in these five years, I want to win trophies. Injuries are a big part of football and you can never say what can happen in five years, so you have to be prepared for every circumstance,” he stated.
Rahul also shared how failure and criticism motivate him to keep pushing himself.
“Failure keeps me going and the criticism from people pushes me a lot. I remember that a corner I gave away against East Bengal cost us two points and I got a lot of bad messages after that. However, what they were actually doing was making me stronger. I accepted my mistake and was motivated to keep going from there.”
“People who know me know what I am. It’s up to me whether to remain down and come back (after criticism). When people try to say I cannot do something, it boosts me to prove them wrong. I love failures — I get to learn from them and they make me stronger,” Rahul mentioned.