My ultimate aim is to win the I-League next season: Rahul Bheke

I-League football returned to Cooperage and Mumbai after five long years, and so did the Mumbai FC supporters who all but helped Khalid Jamil’s men turn Cooperage into a fortress. Not being the most free flowing side, Mumbai FC had their own way of playing football and Rahul Bheke, the highly versatile defender was a vital cog in the Mum bai FC machine.

Apart from being mostly solid at the back, Rahul Bheke earned a name for himself with his long throws, many of which ended in the back of the opposition net, thanks to aerial prowess the men in yellow possessed.

But come June, Rahul Bheke decided to head for greener pastures, as he signed for Kolkata giants Kingfisher East Bengal in late June. We caught up with the man on the move as he spoke in length about his future with East Bengal, the Mumbai FC fans, Khalid Jamil, the Indian National team and obviously his long throws. Here is the full interview of Rahul Bheke.

1. You have sealed your move to East Bengal. How does it feel?

Rahul: I feel ecstatic. I always dreamt of playing for a club like East Bengal and I am really proud that I will be living my dream soon.

2. Being a Mumbaikar, how difficult was it for you to contemplate a move away from the city?

Rahul: It was very difficult as I have been attached to the city and so many people here. But I have to chase my dreams and knowing my goals, I had to sacrifice something to achieve something.

3. What was the thought behind the move?

Rahul: I have always wanted to grow myself as a player. When East Bengal came in, I thought they offered me something new and it was a challenge which I decided to accept.

4. Do you think playing for a club like East Bengal, enhance your chances for playing for the national team?

Rahul: Yes I feel if I could perform consistently for East Bengal, I could catch the eye of the coach. With so many players playing for the national side at East Bengal, it will only help me get there.

5. The pressure of playing for a Kolkata side is quite high. How do you plan to cope with it?

Rahul: The pressure is always there but my plan is to give my hundred percent every time I go out on the pitch. Plus, I am going to play with so many accomplished players and that I’m sure will get the best out of me and thereby deal with the pressure in the best possible way.

6. I have to ask you about the long throw. How have to developed the skill? And how does having that quality impact your thought process as a player?

Rahul: I have been taking long throws since my school days. But when I was playing for Air India that I developed the skill after being impressed by Uttam Singh who used to take those long throws. Since then I have worked on the skill and its a great addition to my game. With it I can contribute in attack as well as the long throws have created plenty of scoring opportunities.

7. After being associated with Mumbai FC for two years, what message you want to give to the fans who turned up in large numbers every time you played at Cooperage last season?

Rahul: I would like to thank all the fans for their support. I thought they were fantastic this season and it helped us a lot during the matches. With Mumbai FC being the only I-League club from the city, I wish the number of supporters just go on increasing every year.

8. How much of an impact has Khalid Jamil had on your career?

Rahul: Khalid Jamil is always known for giving opportunities to younger players. I am thankful to him for giving me the chance to play for Mumbai FC and for the trust he had in me during my playing days under him. he is a great coach.

9. Now as an East Bengal player what are your goals for next season?

Rahul: As an East Bengal player, my aim is to give my best for my club, but the ultimate aim is to win the I-League with East Bengal next season.

Rahul Bheke will certainly add the much needed solidarity to the East Bengal rearguard, which was found wanting at times this season. With the likes of Ranti and Dudu firing all cylinders up front, the signing of Rahul Bheke could just be the missing piece in the puzzle which could see East Bengal wrestle the title away from their arch rivals Mohun Bagan next season.

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