NxGn India: Meet Ruivah Hormipam - The rock at the back set for stardom?

As part of our NxGn India series, Goal takes a closer look at the most promising young talents in the country. Having revealed the ten potential stars who have found a place in this year's list, it's time for an in-depth peek at these players who could play a huge part in the country's future.

Next up is Ruivah Hormipam who hails from Manipur. The defender has been an integral part of the Indian Arrows in the 2019-20 season and has been earmarked as a player with a lot of promise.

The 19-year-old, who is on loan from Punjab FC, was surprisingly mature in his first season in senior football. He made 14 appearances and clocked over 1260 minutes for Shanmugam Venkatesh's side, quickly establishing himself as a regular.

In fact, he made an instant impact when Venkatesh handed him his I-League debut against Gokulam Kerala back in December 2019. It was a baptism by fire for Hormipam, being pitted against two extremely capable and physical strikers in Henry Kissekka and Marcus Joseph. But he stood toe-to-toe with them and though Kissekka did score a goal to help Gokulam win 1-0, Hormipam's performance did not go unnoticed.

In fact, he was named the 'Man of the Match' in what was his debut. He has not looked back since, putting in some solid performances that have been laced with timely clearances and crunching tackles.

Ruivah Hormipam; Indian Arrows

"It was my first time in senior football. I just kept working hard and tried to improve my game. It was a great experience, playing against physically stronger and capable players. It was a good season for us but I need to keep working hard," Hormipam told Goal.

It took some time for Hormipam to reach mainstream football from Imphal but that did not stop him from making people sit up and take note of him.

Hormipam started playing football seriously from 2014 but it took him another three years before he joined a proper academy. In 2017, Hormipam joined the Sports Authority of India (SAI) academy in Imphal and his career began to take shape there.

A year later, Punjab FC held trials in Imphal. Hormipam attended the same and was immediately recruited to join the I-League side's U18 team. That turned out to be an inspired move for the youngster who shone in the Elite League, leading his side all the way to the title.

Ruivah Hormipam; Indian Arrows

His performances did not go unnoticed by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). He was duly called up to the India U18 side and Hormipam was an integral part of the team that won the 2019 SAFF U18 Championship.

It was only natural for the think-tank at Arrows to see his potential and offer him consistent game time. The youngster duly moved to Arrows on loan from Punjab FC and has not looked back since.

"Last season, we were champions of the Elite League with Punjab FC. I had a good time because it was our team's first title win at this stage and I learned a lot. Then I was called up for the India U18 team which was another great experience before Arrows brought me on loan," he said.

Hormipam, who idolises Sergio Ramos, is shy and soft-spoken off the field. But the defender completely transforms once he is on the field, leading his team's backline with authority and maturity - traits that make for a good defender.

It will be interesting to see how Hormipam's career takes shape after the brilliant introduction to senior football he has had.