Young Indian midfielder Amarjit Singh Kiyam's international career was dealt a massive blow when he picked up an injury just before the Indian team's World Cup qualifiers in September 2019.
The Jamshedpur midfielder had fractured his arm in training and missed out on a chance to show the world why head coach Igor Stimac had placed immense trust on a 19-year-old to take control of his team's midfield.
He recovered in a few months and returned to action at the turn of the year to play for his club in the Indian Super League (ISL). Looking back, the midfielder feels the support he received from the head coach of the national team was crucial for his mental recovery.
"It was a very unfortunate moment for me. It was my dream to play in the first XI in the World Cup qualification rounds but because of my injury, I got very sad that I would not be able to participate," the player spoke during an Instagram live conversation with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Friday.
He continued. "When the coach (Stimac) came to the ground and said to me 'Amarjit, be strong. You will come back stronger', all my fears vanished. He even gave me his number and told me to call him if I needed anything. That gave me more of a belief to make a comeback in the team."
Amarjit reserved special praise for Stimac's approach behind the scenes. The youngster feels that coach does not discriminate between players and values effort and commitment to the cause more than anything.
He said, "He sees senior and junior players equally. He likes anyone who gives their 100 per cent. The transition of play - from attack to defence and defence to attack - is a very important factor for him. As I play as a defensive midfielder, I have to be quick to supply the ball to the nearest player and I try my best to apply whatever the coach likes."
The former Indian Arrows midfielder played only eight matches last season in the ISL and will be looking to get minutes under his belt when the Coronavirus-hit season starts rolling later this year.