Mehtab Hossain - "We have been handed a very tricky draw"

 AIFF Press Realease
Mehtab Hossain's interview by AIFF Media Team before 2013 SAFF Championship, Picture Courtesy:
Never ever challenge Mehtab Hossain on the field. Once you do that, he will come back at you, and hard. Off the field, however, he admits he is a “different person.” It’s only that he changes when he “wears the Football boots.” In a freewheeling interview to, Mehtab reflects on the period he stayed out of the National squad, India’s recent performances, his best phase, aggression on the field, his son Zidane and much more. EXCERPTS:

Where does Mehtab Hossain’s aggression the field come from?

(Mehtab smiles). I don’t know. (Mehtab smiles again, looks at his roommate Arnab Mondal and Arnab smiles too). My wife often tells me as to how I completely change once I wear the Football boots. Off the field, I’m a family man and never ever get involved in rowdy acts. But once I take the field, I fear no one. The Almighty has always been kind to me on the field and I love to play sincerely and passionately. In fact, this has stayed with me right from the first day I kicked the ball (Mehtab smiles again).

You were a part of the triumphant SAFF squad which won in Pakistan in 2005. Thereafter you weren’t a part of the National squad for some years. How do you look back at it?

Maybe I wasn’t destined to be a part of that squad; maybe I didn’t fit into the scheme of things of the then National Coach; maybe there was some fault in my play. But I never took it personally. In fact, a Player should never take anything personally. Even when I was out of the National squad, I tried my best. I remember in 2009 I bagged around 10 Man of the Match Awards in the I-League but wasn’t able to break the jinx. But my hard work paid off and I’m honoured to play International Football once again.

Are you going through the best phase of your career?

I feel so. From 2009 onwards I’ve been a more confident Player. My son Zidane was born in 2010 and I believe he brought me luck. Every Player gives his 100 percent on the ground but sometimes you don’t stay lucky despite the effort.

Have you named your son after your idol?

Yes! I have named him Zidane. Zinedine has always been my idol. I just want him to be a good human being. He should learn to respect others, respect his own religion and every other religion. Like every dad, he stays my blue-eyed boy.

Can India recreate the magic of the Nehru Cup in the 2013 SAFF Championship?

If we can beat Cameroon to retain the Nehru Cup for the third successive time there’s no reason why we can’t win the 2013 SAFF Championship. But we can’t win simply on the virtue that we won the Nehru Cup. This is a different Tournament in a different Country against different teams. We have been handed a very tricky draw.

What is the mood in the Camp prior to the match against Pakistan?

It’s an Indo-Pak clash and it says all. Both Countries would be desperate to win and make a winning start to the Championship. In such a match, you ought to give your 300 percent on the ground. Unless you give that extra bit you won’t be successful.

We’ve heard Pakistan have come with five foreign-based Players. They are a very strong unit.

Post Nehru Cup the domination on the field hasn’t reflected in the results.

There have been matches where we have been the better Team yet ended up on the losing side. We need to get rid of those silly mistakes, that split second decisions which are proving a deterrent. That’s the area where we need to improve.

When a Team loses the easiest thing is to blame the Coach. But one fails to remember that once the match starts, it’s the responsibility of the Players to implement what the Coach has told them to. We need to do it collectively for our Team and Country.
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