Mohammad Nawaz, a keeper with sweeping powers

Sergio Lobera, the celebrated coach of FC Goa, noticed Nawaz’s talent and soon made him the first choice goalkeeper of the ‘Pro’ team.

Mohammad Nawaz is a big fan of German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.   -  ISL / SPORTZPICS

Age: 19

From: Khurai, Imphal

Education: Passed Class XII, New Light Public School

Discipline: Football

Club: FC Goa

Beginning: Football runs in the blood of the people of Manipur. Mohammad Nawaz took to the sport quite early and became a part of the Youth Organisation Social Club in his hometown, Khurai in Imphal East, in a big way. “I played in every position that my team wanted me to. But it was my uncle who insisted that I play as a goalkeeper as my team did not have anyone good in that position,” says Nawaz. Combining the skills he learnt from playing in different positions, Nawaz brought in the concept of a ‘sweeper keeper’ in his style of goalkeeping that caught the attention of the talent scouts. It also secured him a place in the first selection of players to be groomed for the side that would represent the nation in the FIFA under-17 World Cup in 2017.

Despite training for almost five years with the ‘World Cup’ squad, Nawaz was not named in the team as he was found to be falling short in height by the head coach Luis Norton de Matos. “It was a big disappointment for me but I overcame the frustration and disappointment of being left out of the World Cup team by convincing myself that there are better things waiting for me in life. I kept working harder to become the first choice goalkeeper of a top club,” Nawaz says. Sergio Lobera, the celebrated coach of FC Goa, noticed Nawaz’s talent and soon made him the first choice goalkeeper of the ‘Pro’ team. Nawaz had fulfilled his dream as an 18-year-old and he now looks to scale greater heights.

“Coach Sergio Lobera preferred my style as a ‘sweeper keeper’ and encouraged me to play that way. I prefer to keep the ball at my feet and participate more directly in the team’s attacking philosophy,” says Nawaz while thanking Lobera for giving him the “freedom” to play his own game.

“I prefer to keep the ball at my feet and participate more directly in the team’s attacking philosophy,” says Mohammad Nawaz.   -  ISL / SPORTZPICS

 

Nawaz idolises the best exponent of the ‘sweeper keeper’ concept, the German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. “I have always loved the way Neuer took the art of goalkeeping to a different level. He adds so much value to his side by initiating the attacks while standing as the last line of defence,” Nawaz says. “I also like David de Gea’s goalkeeping. Among Indians, Subrata Paul and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu are the names who inspire me most,” Nawaz says.

On the flip side, the intensity that Nawaz puts in his performance exposes him to injuries. “I missed the chance to make it to the national under-20 team. Injuries are part of the game and thankfully there are good specialists in FC Goa who have helped me overcome the problem, ensuring a good rehabilitation regime. I am working hard all the time and hope that I am picked up for the under-23 national side,” Nawaz says.

Aim: To become one of the best goalkeepers in the country.

Career Graph

2018-19: ISL — Runner-up

2019: AIFF Super Cup — Winner