“I’ve never felt so loved in football before”

You Can Almost See The Gleam on His Face As He Speaks Into The Phone From Shillong. A BFC Player For A Second Time In His Career, Eugeneson Lyngdoh Says He Cannot Wait To Pull On The Blue Shirt Once Again…

His setting is a view of the East Khasi Hills from his home in Mawngap, Shillong while ours is the club office at the Bengaluru Football Stadium. Before an interview could get underway over a phone call, Eugeneson Lyngdoh has asked multiple questions of his own already. He prods through the well-being of others in the office and in the city as his eagerness to make his way to Bengaluru becomes evident.

“Bengaluru will always be a special place for me. I grew up there, I was a student there at Bishop Cottons Boys School and then later, I joined Bengaluru FC as a player. To be honest, it’s tough to explain. I wasn’t born there, but I have a kind of connection with the city; I fell in love with it. Then to be able to represent the club at such a big stage made my bond even stronger,” says Lyngdoh.

He isn’t the first to have left the club and made his way back, but Eugeneson says that his time away from BFC has tested his resolve. “I won’t mince words. I was really upset when I had to move away from this club, because I didn’t have a choice in the draft. Bengaluru FC meant a lot, but part of being a footballer requires you to be professional, and I gave everything I had every time I pulled on a kit, no matter which club I was playing for. I want to thank ATK and all the supporters of the club because through a tough part of my career, they stood by me and that will always mean a lot,” he adds.

After a spell on the sidelines due to injury, and then finding himself on the bench and out of favour, Eugeneson says that it was the support and encouragement from his supporters back home and those in Bengaluru that kept him going.

“Even when I was at ATK, a lot of supporters from Bengaluru and back home sent me messages. They didn’t really care which team I played for, they just wanted to see me on the field. That really kept me going. Football makes me happy, whether it’s on the training field or in an actual game on the pitch. To see the reaction from the BFC supporters even before the announcement was made, it was very emotional for me. I’ve never felt so loved in football before,” Eugene says.

He may have only put pen to paper last week, but Lyngdoh’s move back to Bengaluru has been in the pipeline for a while now. Various conversations with skipper Sunil Chhetri and Head Coach Carles Cuadrat finally culminated in an offer that the 32-year-old was more than happy to grab hold of.

“I cannot tell you how much it means to know that Carles still has faith in me. I haven’t played too much football since I left BFC and to know that the club still believes in me and my abilities means more than anything. I really don’t want to let him down, because I want to prove to him that he made the right decision by bringing me back,” he says.

So, does it feel like yesterday that he was swinging in those vicious free-kicks and weaving magic at the Fortress? Or have his travails across the country made it feel like his time with BFC was a fair while ago?

“Time has this habit of playing a trick or two when you’re a footballer. It’s funny because it feels like just yesterday that I walked in to become a BFC player for the first time, but when I see all that the club has achieved in the time that I’ve been away, it feels like I’ve missed out on a lot. It doesn’t matter now, really. I’m just glad to be coming home!”

From playing in the final of the AFC Cup in 2016 to being bogged down by injuries and more just two years later, Lyngdoh’s been through it all. And if his words are anything to go by, he knows the trajectory is facing upward once again.

“When I was at BFC, we did magical things together. Then all of a sudden everything came spiraling down for me. I went from being at the very top to some of the lowest points in my career. I’ve been injured before, but coming in for rehab at Bengaluru FC is different from when you are at another club, and that comes from the atmosphere and togetherness that this club has inculcated from the beginning. God knows I’m glad to have a second chance here, and He knows I’m going to grab it with both hands.”