Central Midfielder Anirudh Thapa was labelled as the next big thing in Indian football since his U-16 days. Currently in the national team camp under national coach Stephen Constantine for the upcoming Intercontinental Cup, Thapa’s eyes lit up the moment one mentioned AIFF Academy to him.
An AIFF Academy cadet then, there was always the danger of him losing focus as he stayed in the spotlight from that age. But then, he has always been a bit different from others.
Anirudh Thapa thankful for the AIFF support
“We can’t thank AIFF enough for whatever they have done. There has been a significant difference between me before joining the AIFF Academy and now. I will stay indebted to AIFF throughout for finding the footballer within me. My sole aim is now to utilise this opportunity and represent my country regularly at the topmost level,” Thapa said.
And it isn’t him alone – his U-16 batch mate Jerry Lalrinzuala is also with him in the national camp and a certain Dheeraj Singh is presently in Scotland on trials for Motherwell.
Although he has already made his senior team debut, he feels the national team camp provides ample opportunities for one to improve himself.
“At this age, I can only focus to improve myself. There’s enough opportunity which I need to grab. I am leaving no stone unturned to take something back with me after every training session,” the AIFF Academy graduate mentioned while interacting with the media during the national team camp in Mumbai.
Anirudh Thapa on representing the National Side
Incidentally, Thapa believes there’s always a pressure to be in the national team setup but it’s a good pressure to be under.
“You will always be under pressure to be in the National Team setup. We have to push ourselves to better ourselves as well as scale newer heights.”
The youngster also lauded the senior players who are nothing less than “elder brothers” and their invaluable inputs help the younger players harness their skills.
Thapa stated, “The senior players are like our elder brothers. They are in the business for quite a long time compared to us and they always share their bit with us.”
India will compete with Kenya, New Zealand and Chinese Taipei in the upcoming Intercontinental Cup which is part of their preparation for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.
The Intercontinental Cup is slated to be held in Mumbai from June 1.