With the new season of I–League finally getting underway, let’s focus our attention to one of the most lustrous and promising youngster already creating a stir in country’s top flight football, right at the commencement of his professional career in East Bengal’s Red and Gold colors.
Robin Singh suddenly has been regarded as the new flag bearer of the beautiful game in the country and many football enthusiasts are already tipping him to be the next face of Indian football on the world stage after Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chettri have donned jersey’s of foreign clubs. Sharing his name with a very successful cricketer, known for his fighting skills, this tall-strappy-stylish Delhi lad is going in all guns blazing at the moment. Let’s have a closer look and trace Robin’s journey from his days as a kid in Noida to scoring at the Salt Lake Stadium for East Bengal against fierce rivals Mohun Bagan. Like most of the journeys, Robin’s journey wasn’t a smooth one, and had many hurdles .
Hailing from Noida, close to the national Capital New Delhi, Robin has been well supported by his family since childhood and his parents had truly laid a solid foundation for him to shine in the sporting arena. Robin was the youngest child born in a family, that was more aligned towards business. However, Robin’s grandfather was a professional footballer and was a key member of the organizing committees for prestigious tournaments like Durand and Subroto Mukherjee Cups.
At the age of 9, like every other child of his age in India, he got himself enrolled in a cricket academy in Noida and even represented his academy at various age group competitions. During this period, simultaneously he started playing the beautiful game under the counseling of famous Indian player Anadi Barua. At a tender age of 13 , Robin had to make a choice between cricket and football, as this was the apt age when he could materialize his talent and snowball it into something big. The Indian football lovers will always remain greatful to his choice, as he chose football that time, the game which he enjoyed the most while growing up.
With full support from his parents, Robin, in a bid to pursue his dreams, joined as a trainee at St. Stephen’s Football Academy, Chandigarh. Incidentally, he was instantly scouted and selected and by the UT Sports Department to be included in Chandigarh Football Academy’s senior batch in 2003. While attending his formal football coaching at CFA, Robin played a pivotal role in many of their triumphs including the third Junior Challenge Administrator’s Cup Football Tournament and Pre-Subroto Mukerjee Football Tournament (under-17) in the year 2005. During his stint with Indian U-16 team, Robin got priceless exposure when the team travelled to Germany to play some practice matches against German clubs like Wolfsburg and AS Augsburg.
However, nothing came in a platter for this hardworking lad, as it was at the Subroto Cup Final in 2005, where Robin was controversially expelled from the academy after he missed a spot kick. The academy released a statement saying that they were parting ways with Robin, because he was out of synch with the training program.
Development As A TFA Cadet:
But, as they say – all is well, that ends weel, – this expulsion proved to be a blessing in disguise for him. After he was weeded out of the academy, Robin was reconnoitered by one the best football hubs in the country, the Tata Football Academy, Jamshedpur. It was the biggest leap in his footballing career that he could have expected at that time. He was mentored by very renowned talent hawk and widely respected Ranjan Chowdhury. After graduating from TFA, in December 2008, Robin went to Dubai to train with a UAE first division club. Another major boost came in May 2009, when Robin went to train in England where he was mentored by Mel Eves, ex-England and Manchester City player.
The Journey With East Bengal:
The former India U-16 international recently created a lot of buzz and hype in media when he became the highest paid cadet to pass out of the TFA, when he penned down a big-money contract with Kolkata heavyweights Kingfisher East Bengal. After undergoing four years of extensive training at TFA, it is reported that the Red and Gold brigade had to dispense around rupees 50 lakhs for signing the promising striker for a two-year deal.
In what can be stated as a historic upset, Robin Singh caught the eye of East Bengal scouts this September when his last-gasp goal for TFA knocked the air out of East Bengal, handing them a crushing 1-3 defeat and their fastest exit in IFA Shield history, which eventually would also be the last game in charge for the veteran coach Subhas Bhowmick. The Delhi lad competed for Bengal in this year’s edition of Santosh trophy and caught the eye of many while playing in the prestigious cup. But this was just the tip of the iceberg. Robin-Mania caught up big time with football fanatics especially in Bengal soon after.
Robin has been in annihilating form since he joined the Red & Gold brigade. Working under Trevor Morgan, Robin has dazzled and already helped the Kolkata giants win the Federation Cup, Mohammedan SC Platinum Jubilee Cup and Kolkata League so far in this season. He was the top scorer for the club in Jubilee Cup and scored a brilliant brace against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan in the most important KFL match. With three titles already in the kitty, it’s time to look forward and expect Robin Singh to prove his mettle on the biggest stage of Indian football – the I-League. He has gelled well with the other new signing, Tolgay Ozbey, during the pre-season and they till now both of them have been enough damaging to raise the eyebrows of rival coaches. With Bhaichung Bhutia set to join in, the prospect of Trevor Morgan playing deadly combo of Robin and the Indian captain, is already being anticipated with huge interest.
2010 has been a great year overall for the enhancement and popularization of the game here in India. Sunil Chhetri has joined the MLS, India is preparing for its Asia Cup appearance after more than two decades. Robin is well aware of these expectations and we at TheHardTackle believe that he would just be the missing link India needs before the Asia Cup begins early next year – hope Bob Houghton is listening.
~ Kunwar Deep Singh