Robin Singh: 'BFC still like family'

On Saturday, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Robin Singh will be seen again, but decked up in red and gold against the club with which he experienced his biggest success.

“I just miss Bengaluru as a city,” says Robin Singh.   -  N. Sudarshan

In a seven-year career Robin Singh has already played for two clubs with some of the biggest fan-bases in the country. At the tender age of 19, he was plucked by East Bengal from the Tata Football Academy and went on to spend three successful seasons there. Then, as a man who was sure of his footing, he played a part in one of the most glorious stories in Indian footballing history when Bengaluru FC won the I-League title in the first year of its existence.

On Saturday, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, he will be seen again, but decked up in red and gold against the club with which he experienced his biggest success. Robin re-joined East Bengal before the start of the season and, quite remarkably, scored the winner in Kolkata when the two clubs met in late January.

“When I left Bengaluru, it was something I didn’t want to do. The fans here are probably the best in the country.”

“I don’t know how the fans will react, actually,” said Robin on the eve of the match. “But West Block, I know, is for Indian football. They will be on the other side, yes, but they will be here for Indian football. I love playing here. A lot of boys, especially the foreigners, haven’t played here before. I’ve spoken to them about how the fans are. We are all looking forward as a team.”

By his own admission, Robin considers BFC family, in spite of the less than pleasant circumstances under which he departed, following a dispute between the club and Delhi Dynamos, his Indian Super League team then. At the same time he remains eternally thankful to East Bengal for first giving him an opportunity when he was a teenager and then showing enough trust to sign him again even on the back of an injury-ravaged 2016.

“When I left Bengaluru, it was something I didn’t want to do. The fans here are probably the best in the country. But East Bengal was my first club. As an 18-19-year-old to sign for such a big club is a massive achievement. There is no comparison between the two clubs. They both hold their own respect and are prestigious. I feel honoured to have played for both.”

So how was it then to score the winner in the reverse fixture?

“I was happy. But was it because I scored against my old club? No. The happiness will be the same against Mohun Bagan, too, because for me scoring for East Bengal is more important [than who is it against].”

After having arrived in the city on Thursday, Robin revealed, rather laughingly, that he had to politely decline a few requests to meet his former chums. “I spoke to a few of them. I was happy to sit in my seat on the BFC bus, which was sent to pick us up. I had goosebumps. I just miss Bengaluru as a city.”

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