Nikhil Poojari thanks AIFF for ‘strong support’ during rehab

After having stayed away from action for about a year, the 22-year-old forward is training alongside other U-23 probables for the upcoming SAFF Championships.

Nikhil Poojari hopes to make his opportunity count. Photo: AIFF

Nikhil Poojari, the 22-year-old Indian forward, has expressed gratitude for the support he received for his recovery from injury by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Poojari, who signed up last month to play for FC Pune City, suffered a ligament tear last year which kept him out of action for about a year. He is undergoing training in New Delhi alongside other U-23 probables ahead of the SAFF Championships in Bangladesh.

Thanking the AIFF at a media interaction on the sidelines of the preparatory camp, he said, “I feel short of words to thank AIFF for staying by my side during those awful days. Initially, I couldn't imagine that AIFF will provide me with such a strong support to get me back to the field.”

Rock bottom

After a fruitful season with East Bengal, Poojari was gearing up for another one when he injured himself during the Calcutta Football League. He “hit the rock (rock-bottom)” owing to the injury, he admitted.

Read: Poojari, Sharma looking to make the most of SAFF C'ships

"After the eventful 2016-17 season, I hit the rock owing to the injury next season. Initially, I didn’t have the slightest idea how serious the injury was. But the MRI report showed that there was a tear, turning out to be [Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)] in my left leg,” Poojary said.

He added, “I would like to thank Gigy (George)-Sir, Danny (Deigan) and Coach (Stephen Constantine) for backing me during my rehab. Coach had himself suffered from ACL during his playing days hence, he could connect to my worries easily.”

‘Great opportunity’

The camp represented a “great opportunity” to make a mark, Poojari felt. “Honestly, I was not expecting to get a call-up in this camp but coach showed his faith in me. Herein lies the challenge for me. All the boys are super-fit and I have no other option but to be on par with them. Come what may, I have to push my limits and perform well. It's a great opportunity and I would not leave this one wasted. I need to make it count,” he said.

Talking about the camp, he said, “Coach always prefers high-intensity games and motivates us to push more during the training sessions. I was not expecting to join the training before August 18 but thanks to everyone’s blessing and cohesive effort, I could join two weeks prior. I was nervous at the starting but after a few sessions, I started feeling positive.”

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