New Delhi, May 1 (PTI) Bangladesh footballer Nabib Newaj Jibon has revealed he got a lot of help from Indian team defender Pritam Kotal while he was in Kolkata for a surgery last month.
Nabib said not just Kotal, but also his girlfriend Sonela Paul was there by his side as he recovered post surgery.
'Pritam da and Sonela di both provided so much support when I was there in Kolkata,' Jibon told the All India Football Federation (AIFF) website.
'The main thing that they provided me was the mental support. That was very important -- especially because I was in a city where I did not know anybody.' 'They used to visit me every day at the hospital, and at my hotel. I could not move around much after my surgery. But they would often come around and get different things for me - whatever I'd require.
'They'd even check on whether I've had my meals properly every day, and that meant a lot,' Jibon said.
The two players had played against each other but were not acquainted.
'I never really knew Pritam da personally, before this trip to Kolkata,' Jibon said.
'Yes, I had heard about him. I have played against him for my national team. But we were never properly acquainted.' It was one of Jibon's teammates from the national team, Raihan Hasan, who introduced the Bangladesh striker to the Blue Tigers defender.
'I've been well acquainted with Mamunul bhai (Islam) and Raihan. In fact, it was Raihan, who took a lot of initiative and approached me about Jibon. I was told that he was coming to Kolkata, and requested me to look after him during his stay here,' said Pritam.
Pritam instantly agreed to help out the player from across the border.
'Of course, if someone comes across the border, we need to take care of him. We may be from different countries, but at the end of the day we are all from the footballing community, and we need to take care of each other,' said Pritam.
'He's like a brother from across the border.' After Nabib had recovered, Pritam could not go visit him due to certain COVID-safety protocols in his locality but sent his care along with Sonela to pick up the player and take him all the way to the India-Bangladesh border in Benapole, near the town of Bongaon.
'We also contacted the Petrapole immigration authorities and got a permission from them. The BSF at Benapol also helped a lot. They reached in the morning, but there was a long wait till the evening, and finally he was allowed to cross the border,' said Pritam.
'There were some difficulties, but the good thing is that the surgery was successful, and that he was able to get back across the border without much hassle.' Nabib's club Basundhara Kings are set to play against Pritam's side ATK Mohun Bagan in the AFC Cup in May, whereas Bangladesh are to meet India in the World Cup Qualifier in Qatar later this year. PTI AH AH APA APA