‘I had never imagined my journey here would be so special’

There’s Been Highs, There’s Been Lows, But Through It All, This Has Been One Of The Most Fantastic Experiences Of My Career. From The Bottom Of My Heart, I Just Want To Say Thank You…

When I got the opportunity to join Bengaluru FC in 2017, I had never imagined that my journey here would be so special. When I heard my name being called out at the drafts, my first aim was to simply get into the team and do my best. I knew that wouldn’t be easy, and I took it as a challenge.

I remember the first open training session; so many new faces in the team, some I had played with before. But that day I realised that this club was more than just about the players and the staff. It was more about their relationship with the supporters. Did I think I would achieve so much? No. But I was sure that I would make many good memories.

I will say that, in my career so far, the Bengaluru FC supporters are the best I have played in front of. They are never negative towards any of the players and are always there to support the team, regardless of whether we win or lose. They understand a footballer’s life and that’s also part of the reason we have done so well in our home games. I will always carry the memories of our unbeaten run at the Kanteerava.

When I started to get opportunities at Bengaluru FC, I slowly built up the desire to play for the national team. That was my ultimate aim, and having players like Sunil bhai, Gurpreet bhai, Khabra paaji, Dimas, Erik, Juanan, Johnson and Miku helped me grow as a player and to learn so many more things. These players have brought many things into my professional career that weren’t there before in terms of food, training, gym and workouts, and I want to thank them for helping me realise my dream to play for India.

I also want to give a huge amount of thanks to all my teammates and the backroom staff at this club. Right from when I joined under Albert Roca, to the times I played under Carles Cuadrat and Naushad Moosa, and most recently the time I spent under Marco Pezzaiuoli; every coach has taught me and made me a better player and for that I am truly indebted. I am also thankful to the management and office staff at the club for all their support throughout my time here. Over the last four years, I have seen the amount of work that goes into every aspect at this club, and I must say that, in many ways, they are a massive reason why Indian football is growing.

When I look back on my time at Bengaluru FC, I have to pick the finals of the 2018 Super Cup and the 2018-19 Indian Super League as my most cherished moments. Scoring the equaliser in Bhubaneshwar and the winner in Mumbai will be memories that stay with me for as long as I am alive, and I hope that this club can make many more such moments for its fans in the years to come.

I hope the supporters can continue doing what they do, because football without supporters in the stands is simply not the same. Football deserves support like that of the West Block Blues and I hope to see them back soon. There are clubs across the country with more supporters in the stands, but the quality of the support that the West Block Blues bring is among the best I have ever experienced. They are one of the biggest reasons why Bengaluru FC has prospered and I hope that continues for a long time.

I would have liked to have one last game at the Kanteerava stadium, in front of all of you amazing supporters, but sometimes things just aren’t meant to be. Regardless, I have enjoyed this journey until the very last moment, and I want to wish the entire Bengaluru FC family the best for the future.

Until we meet again!

Rahul Bheke