Khabra: 'If I'm calm, it will be bad for me'

Harmanjot Khabra, who recently transferred from East Bengal to Bengaluru FC, talks about his strengths, his time at East Bengal, his reputation as a hot-head and much more.


Harmanjot Khabra is delighted to share the dressing room with players of I-League champion Bengaluru FC.   -  Special Arrangement

Harmanjot Khabra makes no pretense of being anything other than his robust, unfussy self. "I'm not the kind of player who can dribble past three people or who can be an individual match-winner," he says. "I'm the sort of guy who can take responsibility. If there's a player on the opponent's side who needs to be stopped, I'm there to stop him. He has to feel that I'm there."

Over the years, Khabra, who signed for Bengaluru FC (BFC) last month, has developed a reputation as a passionate, hard-tackling midfielder, capable of performing multiple roles on the pitch. "Whenever I play for any team, I look at it as a new chapter in a book," he says. "If somebody asks me to play left-half two minutes before the start of a match, there won't be any problem. That's who I am. God has given me this gift of being versatile. I enjoy that. The coach knows that I'm a utility player in Indian football."

If the 28-year-old from Punjab is regarded as a bit of a hot-head, it does not bother him. "If I'm calm, it will be bad for me," Khabra smiles. "You must show your presence to your opponent. At the end of the day it's one on one. Everyone speaks about me picking up cards and all that. It happens. A yellow card comes from my motivation to tackle a player."

Khabra spent seven years at East Bengal before this move to BFC, a decision he was clear about. "I got everything at East Bengal; the only thing I missed was the I-League crown. As a player, every year you have targets to achieve and when you just keep trying and you're not getting it… BFC were interested in me when they started three years ago and I was always keen on joining them. But I had a contract and I honoured it. Last season, I had announced that if I didn't win the I-League, I'd move," he says.

Khabra may now expect to play a key role at BFC, whose professionalism has delighted him. "It's a different feeling when you join the I-League champion," he says.

"It's a professional atmosphere here. When you share the dressing room with the likes of Eugene (Lyngdoh), Sunil (Chhetri) and the foreigners, it makes you feel there is something extra among the players. I never thought I would move from East Bengal. But now, I'm here and I'm very lucky to be here."

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