Goyat: 'Didn't expect I'd receive a bid of Rs 1.51 crore'

Monu Goyat admits that becoming the highest-paid player gives him a lot of confidence but is aware he must keep working hard.

File photo of Monu Goyat doing a raid for Patna Pirates.   -  Special Arrangement

Monu Goyat missed the first three seasons of the Pro Kabaddi League as his employers, the Indian Army, refused to allow its players to take part in the professional league. That changed two years ago. After solid displays, his stock went through the roof at the auction this year, when Haryana Steelers acquired his services for Rs 1.51 crore, making him the most expensive player. 

To put Goyat’s price tag into perspective, he has become the most expensive non-cricketing sportsperson in India, ahead of even football star Sunil Chhetri. 

READ: Monu Goyat becomes most expensive PKL player on record-shattering day

Goyat was part of the auction in 2016, when Bengal Warriors secured his service for Season 4. Goyat had a good debut season, racking up 52 successful raids in 13 appearances. The best of Goyat was on view during the fifth season - playing for the eventual champion, Patna Pirates, the now 25-year-old finished the campaign with the fourth-most successful raids (159), the fourth-most number of raid points (191) and seventh-most super raids (4). He was one of the stars of a team that had Pardeep Narwal, another dynamic raider.

Ahead of the season 6 auction, Goyat was surprisingly not retained by Patna Pirates. At the auction, franchises were expected to battle fiercely for Goyat’s signature, but the winning bid came as a surprise to the man himself.

“At first, I couldn’t really believe that it had happened. I was very shocked and happy (at the same time)! I knew that the auction this year would be much bigger than the previous years and I thought I might hit the (1) crore mark, but I didn’t think I’d receive a bid of 1.51 crore. I’m still a bit overwhelmed by everything that’s happened,” Goyat told Sportstar.

READ: PKL 2018: The five most expensive picks at the auction

Goyat admits that becoming the highest-paid player gives him a lot of confidence but is aware he must keep working hard.

“It’s (becoming the most-expensive player) honestly a dream come true for me. As a player, all you want to do is to be (at) your best and work hard enough to make sure you can keep playing. And I think that it’s given me a lot of confidence but at the same time has made me realise that I have to keep pushing myself.

"It means a lot that the Haryana Steelers took a chance on me. I look forward to living up to my potential this season and showing them that they made the correct choice by bidding for me.”

The raider from Haryana accepts that the price tag will be a factor heading into his third PLKL season. But says, he will maintain the hard work he has had to do to get to this level.

“It does,” says Goyat, of the pressure that accompanies being the most-expensive player, “but there are a lot of other factors that are equally important for me to keep in mind. Playing for the Steelers this season, I’ll be the primary raider for my team, and that obviously adds another level of responsibility. I know people will expect a lot from me this year, and I’m going to work my hardest to try and be the best that I can.”

Goyat, who has already won the PKL once with Patna Pirates, is determined to put on a stellar show for his team this season.

“I would like to stay focused and do my best. For the longest time, it has been my dream to play in a league like the Pro Kabaddi League and it’s a great place to be. Last season, I worked very hard to try and make it an amazing season for myself and my team. This season, my aim is to push as hard as possible, and do well, so that my team can get to the finals.”

Goyat is one of six PKL players purchased at the auction for Rs 1 crore or more.

When asked if the hefty bids reflect the growing popularity of the league in the country, he replied, “When I first started playing kabaddi, there wasn’t any scope for it at all, at the most if you did well, you would get a job and a chance to represent the country at the Asian Games and maybe the World Cup, but that was it.

Nobody really came out to watch it. But with the Pro Kabaddi League, the sport has really taken off and there are a lot of people showing far more interest in it. It’s really encouraging to see.”