Central defender Narender Gahlot is one of the youngsters that Indian men's football team coach Igor Stimac is fond of. Even though Gahlot is still in his teens, Stimac wants him to take responsibility from the back and the youngster does not want to shy away from it.
Gahlot made his India debut on July 7, 2019 against Tajikistan in the Hero Intercontinental Cup and nine days later against Syria, he found the back of the net with a solid header. Since then, he is only trying to stay consistent and keep his place in the team.
"The onus is on me now to remain consistent in my game and keep working hard to improve. I want to give my best for the country and make our fans' dreams come true," Gahlot said to the-aiff.com.
"Sandesh (Jhingan) paji plays with a warrior-like attitude during matches and is very aggressive. In training, he gives his 100% at all times and is physically very strong, which is something I try to emulate. He also shares his experiences with us from time-to-time, from which we learn.
"Sunil (Chhetri) bhai is such an inspiration for all of us and gives us all invaluable advice. He told me to be aggressive when I am without the ball. When I have the ball, I have to be extremely calm and avoid mispasses. And when I am passing to the midfield or to my wing-backs, the weight of the pass has to be precise and the direction has to be perfect as well. Otherwise, the pressure will come back on the central defenders," he shared.
Gahlot recalled that his debut, when he got to share the dressing room with his idols was a "wonderful experience" but wanted to keep moving forward.
"It's been a year for learning. I got my National Team debut at 18 wherein I got to share the dressing rooms with so many of my idols. It was a wonderful experience. Looking back it feels great. But there's no way I can stop there."
He stated that mistakes are the biggest learning, if one does not repeat them. "The biggest learning has been that everyone makes mistakes. But it is critical not to repeat them. As a defender I know which areas I need to improve on and the seniors guide us a lot in that respect as well."
Gahlot divulged the details of his coronavirus lockdown routine where he has managed to source some gym equipments to keep exercising even as he gave a helping hand in making sweets at home.
"It's been a challenging time for everyone in the world and I have tried to make the best use of the free time. I managed to source some gym equipment from my friends and have been using it for my daily workouts. Cycling is also another activity that I have enjoyed.
At home, I contribute my bit in the daily chores and we even made some sweet dishes such as kaaju katli, gulab jamun and jalebis. Of course, I could not indulge in eating it too much as I have to take care of my diet as well! (laughs)."