Jeakson Singh’s destiny was certainly written on his forehead. The teenager’s thumping header against Colombia in the recent under-17 World Cup has likely immortalised him in the history of Indian sport.
Currently, the defensive mid-fielder is playing the I-League for Indian Arrows. He spoke to ETPanache on the phone from Goa. Singh, who knows some English but is more comfortable in Hindi, talks about his historic goal, his academic dreams and the pleasure of listening to Arijit Singh.
Excerpts from the interview:
You made history by scoring India’s first ever goal in a FIFA World Cup. What was going on in your mind when you scored?
It is something that I will never forget. The biggest thing for me is that I was able to make my family proud. I was able to score the goal because of my team. When the ball went in, I went crazy with joy. I did not know how I should celebrate. I did not know in which direction I should run. I saw my teammates, my coaches, the fans — it was a frenzy. I feel this is the beginning for me. I want to do more.
Bhaichung Bhutia, the original poster boy of Indian football. (Image: Agencies)
Who are the Indian and international footballers you look up to? What have you learnt from them?
Sergio Busquets and Nemanja Matic. Busquets is calm and collected. He plays the game at his own pace. Matic´ tackles aggressively and has a very strong game. I try to get a mix of the two in my game. Bhaichung Bhutia was my idol in Indian football. I was also a striker when I started playing football and Bhutia was the face of Indian football at that time. I always wanted to be like him.
Who are your role models in life?
I follow my brother [Jonichand Singh was in India’s U-19 squad in the Asian Cup qualifiers in 2009]. He has been an inspiration on how life should be led despite staying away from home, and not getting distracted.
Do you miss home, your friends and family since you are away for most parts of the year?
I do. But to become something in life, you need to lose time with loved ones. Rather than fret at being away, I concentrate on my game and try to improve.
Are you still studying? If yes, what and where?
I am studying along with playing football. I am in Class 10 and have missed my exams twice because of matches. I am trying to appear again this year. I try to study every night, but if I am not able to — I make it a point to write some lessons and revise what I studied earlier. I try to motivate myself. It has been so long since I gave an exam. So, sometimes I feel I should just quit studies. But then I realise the worth of education. I want to graduate and study Arts since it will complement my football.
Ace badminton player, PV Sindhu posing at an event. (Image: Agencies)
How do you stay fit?
We have our physios, who make us exercise. I am trying to get a six-pack, so, I do abdomen exercises. I try to do back exercises also. I met PV Sindhu recently. Her father told me that a player needs to have a strong back and a six-pack. That’s why I have started focusing on exercising.