Abu Dhabi, December 23: Narayan Das has always been an unsung hero for the National Team. A consistent performer who prefers to stay “quiet” as part of build-up to a match, Narayan says the “bonding within the National team is exceptional.”
In an exclusive interview with AIFF, he opens up about his match preparation, the strength of the squad, his friendship with Pritam Kotal and much more.
You are generally referred to as the 'quiet one’ in the squad.
I am generally a shy person. Prior to any match I usually put my phone away. I like to stay all by myself. That’s part of my build-up. Being quiet helps me concentrate. On the pitch you need to communicate with your teammates, and that’s exactly what I do. On most occasions, I operate down the left flank with Halicharan (Narzary). We communicate a lot on the pitch and sometimes, we even speak in Bengali.
Both you and Pritam Kotal started playing in the same Academy and are now not only regular starters for the National Team.
Pritam and I have been friends since childhood. Back in those days we used to play at the Uttarpara Academy, and train together. We have known each other for around 15 years now. We also went for the Tata Football Academy, and the Bengal trials together. He wasn’t picked, but then he made it to the India U-19 Team before me.
What is the competition like for that left-back slot with Subhashish Bose?
There’s no fun unless we have competition for places. Other than a healthy competition, we won’t improve as players. It urges one to train harder to improve. It's up to the coach to decide who he will pick.
What’s your take on India’s opponents in the group stage?
Modern football has changed. We can no more predict as which side are the strongest. The side that fights hardest on the pitch will emerge as the winner. As part of the team, I have to believe that our side is the strongest. The bonding within our squad is exceptional. It all depends on how you play on match day.
Despite being a defender you have scored for the National Team. How special was it?
We were playing Puerto Rico in Mumbai and were 0-1 down at that time. Sunil-bhai was taking the free-kick from a somewhat central position. I had been instructed to follow the ball if there was a rebound. I did, and scored my first goal for the National Team.