Bengaluru, Oct 5: Three years back, Ishan Pandita took a big step when he decided to leave his studies and leave for Spain to pursue a football career.
It was definitely a big step taken by the Bengaluru boy who dreamt of making big in Europe one day by becoming a professional footballer.
The Kashmiri origin youngster's talent was spotted for the first time in 2012 at the 'Airtel Rising Star' a talent hunt organised by Manchester United in association with Airtel at Bengaluru.
Out of 2000 participants, Pandita and three other boys were selected. It was a stepping stone to bigger success for the youngster who was destined to shine.
After scripting history by becoming the first Indian footballer to sign a professional contract with La Liga side Club Deportivo Leganes, Ishan Pandita spoke to OneIndia in an exclusive interview.
Here is the full interview of Ishan Pandita
Question: Hailing from a cricket loving nation like India, what made you fall in love with football?
Ishan: I was born in India but only stayed here for a few years. When I turned 3 my family moved to Philippines. I went to a British School in Manila. I started playing football at a very young age. I guess the influence was greatly due to the fact that I was in a British school. England being one of the top nations in football provided a great platform to learn my basics from.
Q: You were selected as the most valuable player from a pool of 2000 players in Bangalore in the Airtel Manchester United Talent hunt. Tell us about the experience and how did that help you to grow as a footballer?
Ishan: It was one of the first talent hunts done in India and being a part of that was a great experience. It was a massive event conducted by Airtel and Manchester United Soccer Schools. To be picked out of so many people was immense. It was overwhelming and also helped me getting clarity about my future.
Q: You are in Spain for quite sometime now, so tell us about your learning process there.
Ishan: This is my third year here. It's definitely been great! The level here in Spain, in my opinion, is the highest in the world. To be competing side by side with some of the best players is huge. The coaches and their training techniques imparted are the best in the world. It was tough when I first came here but have learned plenty.
Q: Which is your favourite club and player?
Ishan: I am a huge fan of Liverpool and Real Madrid. I can't pick a single player but if I had to pick few then it would be Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Q: Where do you see yourself in the next three years?
Ishan: Well in the next three years I see myself playing in La Liga.
Q: Do you aspire to be a part of the Indian side in the next 5-7 years?
Ishan: Yes. It's something any kid would take with both hands. To represent your nation is a great honour.