Anirudh Thapa has become a household name in Indian football after his consistent performances with the national team as well as on the domestic stage for his club Chennaiyin FC.
At just 22, he has established himself as an indisputable starter at the centre of the park for India and has already earned 22 caps. His favourite opponent seems to be Thailand as the midfielder has both his international goals against the War Elephants.
"My boot loves Thailand (laughs). I was there at the right place at the right moment (during both the goals). I would love to score against everyone (other opponents). Many of them (Indian players) were new players. (In the King's Cup) We were playing a 4-4-2 diamond, which was a new formation for us. Raynier (Fernandes), Amarjit (Singh) came in midfield. It was great to score against the opposition fans," said Thapa.
The India international could not pick one when asked which result made him happier; the 4-1 win against Thailand or the goalless draw against Qatar.
"Both matches were equally tough for us. No one was able to keep the clean sheets against them (Qatar) except Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. It was a great match for us. We came from the loss against Oman. Everyone wanted to prove ourselves. Next day, everyone gave their best and we got a special result. But scoring a goal and winning in the AFC Asian Cup (against Thailand) was also so special."
Thapa spent four years at the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) Elite Academy and the footballer stressed that his stint at the institute helped him become a better player.
"I came there and everything changed. In the academy, we had to do everything by ourselves. It helped me to become a better person. Our manager had a great philosophy. We couldn’t sleep after breakfast until lunch. It was a very disciplined life. That’s how the AIFF academy has helped me shape up my life," said the Chennaiyin FC midfielder.