Robin keen to make up for lost time

India may have had a disappointing run in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers but the Delhi Dynamos forward must be on a high, having scored a goal in his ISL debut against the high-flying Pune City the other day.

Robin Singh scored a goal in his ISL debut.   -  ISL/ SPORTZPICS

As a little boy, Robin Singh was a decent cricketer. He was a hard-hitting batsman and a pace bowler. But football ran in his blood and his granddad was among the top players in the country in the 1950s.

“I played cricket till I was about 13 or 14 and a bit of football too but when the time came for me to decide which sport I wanted to pursue seriously, I chose football,” said the Indian striker Robin Singh in a telephone chat on Friday, a few minutes after he reached Kochi for Sunday’s Indian Super League game against Kerala Blasters.

India may have had a disappointing run in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers but the Delhi Dynamos forward must be on a high, having scored a goal in his ISL debut against the high-flying Pune City the other day.

Just a year ago, Robin was among the players who missed the ISL bus as many I-League clubs did not release their stars for Indian football’s glamorous jamboree.

So when the Noida-born 25-year-old got a call from the Delhi head coach Roberto Carlos soon after India’s recent World Cup qualifier against Oman, he did not hesitate a bit and told the Brazilian great that he would be ready for next day’s ISL game.

Clearly, Robin was hungry to score ISL goals. He wanted to make up for the lost time.

“Before the game, Carlos asked me whether I’d score a goal. I told him ‘if I score, I will come to you and dedicate that goal to you,’ which I did. It was a very emotional feeling for both of us.”

Now, after getting off the blocks in a jiffy, the Bengaluru FC star in the I-League has set a challenging target for himself in the ISL.

“After crossing the 10-goal mark in the I-League, I want to reach the 10-goal mark in the ISL as well.”

Five years ago, Robin made waves when East Bengal signed him for a hefty amount – reportedly Rs 50 lakh. He was just 19 then. And at the ISL auction a few months ago, he was picked by Delhi for Rs 51 lakh against his base price of Rs 40 lakh.

But there was a time when a football academy in Chandigarh felt that he was not good enough.

“I trained in Delhi first and then I was in Chandigarh where they said that I did not have the capability to become a footballer, so I went to the Tata Football Academy who trained me for four years. And I think that’s where my professional career started shaping up,” he said.

After two straight wins, it’s a very confident Delhi that the Blasters will be playing on Sunday. But Robin says that he and his team have their feet firmly on the ground.

“Of course, the confidence level is high but we have our head on our shoulders. We’re here to play a great game and go back with three points. We will do that,” said Robin.

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