After Mumbai City FC star Rowllin Borges paid a huge compliment to Anirudh Thapa, backing him to become the best midfielder in the country, the Chennaiyin FC player has responded in kind.
Borges, during a recent Instagram chat, had heaped praises on his national team partner. He said, "My partnership with (Anirudh) Thapa has been good. He is very, very talented. He is one of my favourite players in ISL (Indian Super League). He has the talent and works hard, I wish him all the best. In a few years, he will be the best. He will become better and better."
Thapa, in turn, told Goal that Borges along with Eugeneson Lyngdoh were two of his role models.
"I am learning from him (Borges) actually. Rowllin and Eugeneson are two midfielders I look up to. I am glad that I got the opportunity to play with him in the national team. I played with him against Oman and Qatar," he said.
Borges was one of the standout players for Mumbai City in the previous season of the ISL and Thapa was quick to point that out and re-iterate that he picks up nuances and tricks of the game from the Goan midfielder.
"I always watch him play and I pick up tricks from him. He is one of the best midfielders in India in the recent past. He's playing for the national team regularly.
"I need to learn from him and others as well. He’s right up there in terms of midfielders right now in India and If I want to beat him, I have to work hard."
Thapa himself had a stellar season with Chennaiyin FC, playing an important role as the team bounced back from a poor start to reach the finals. Not only was Thapa an influential figure in the midfield, he also popped up with an important goal in the semifinal against FC Goa and notched a few assists.
He is keen to take his game up a few notches in the upcoming season with the Marina Machans.
"I want to replicate the second half of the last season and actually improve upon that. I need to do better than last season personally. I need to work hard, physically and on my technique. Keeping on improving will help me become a better player and I must do that," he said.
Chennaiyin FC had made a poor start to the 2019-20 season and were floundering near the bottom of the table when John Gregory parted ways with the club. His successor, Owen Coyle, had a huge impact on the club's and Thapa's fortunes as the Marina Machans turned around their season in spectacular fashion.
They put together a brilliant run of form to reach the play-offs against all odds and then went on to beat the league-toppers FC Goa 6-5 in the two-legged play-offs. Though they lost the final against ATK, Thapa feels that Coyle's trust in the players was very important in the team's revival.
Personally, Thapa stated that the season showed him the importance of not giving up and fighting to the end.
"I learnt a lot last season. Obviously, we didn't start well. We were bottom of the table and things changed when the new coach came. That showed the importance of believing in ourselves, trusting the teammates. The coach showed us the possibilities and we trusted in him and ourselves. We worked really hard. We gave 100 per cent in every game and we saw our progress every week.
"That’s the big thing I learnt last season - we should never give up. We kept working hard. The day he (Coyle) came, he told us we can reach the playoffs if we work hard. And that’s what we did."