Thapa: There are enough opportunities which I need to grab

Anirudh Thapa is currently attending a national team camp under India coach Stephen Constantine.

Anirudh Thapa in action for Chennaiyin FC during the last Indian Super League season.   -  Deepak Malik

Central midfielder Anirudh Thapa has been labelled as the next big thing in Indian Football since his U-16 days. An AIFF Academy cadet then, there was always the danger of him losing focus as he stayed in the spotlight from that age. But then, he has always been a bit different from others.

Currently in the national team camp under India coach Stephen Constantine, Thapa’s eyes lit up the moment one mentioned AIFF Academy to him.

"We can't thank AIFF enough for whatever they have done. There has been a significant difference between me before joining the AIFF Academy and now. I will stay indebted to AIFF throughout for finding the footballer within me. My sole aim is now to utilise this opportunity and represent my Country regularly at the topmost level,” Thapa, sitting at the national camp in Mumbai said in one breath.

Read: Intercontinental Cup important for India’s development, says Constantine

The journey had begun some years back from the AIFF Academy in Kolkata which later shifted to Kalyani, the picturesque town in suburban Bengal. Spotted by Colm Toal and other coaches and then nurtured by Gautam Ghosh and Scott O’Donnell, Thapa lived up to the promise; so much so, that he made his senior team debut under Constantine against St. Kitts & Nevis in 2017.

And it isn’t him alone – his U-16 batchmate Jerry Lalrinzuala is also with him in the National Camp and a certain Dheeraj Singh is presently in Scotland on trials for Motherwell.

Although he has already made his senior team debut, he feels the National team camp provides ample opportunities for one to improve himself.

"At this age, I can only focus to improve myself. There's enough opportunity which I need to grab. I am leaving no stone unturned to take something back with me after every training session,” the AIFF Academy graduate mentioned while interacting with the media during the national team camp in Mumbai.

Incidentally, Thapa believes there's always a pressure to be in the national team setup but it's a good pressure to be under.

"You will always be under pressure to be in the national team setup. We have to push ourselves to better ourselves as well as scale newer heights."

The youngster also lauded the senior players who are nothing less than "elder brothers" and their invaluable inputs help the younger players harness their skills.

Thapa stated: "The senior players are like our elder brothers. They are in the business for quite a long time compared to us and they always share their bit with us."