ATK Mohun Bagan defender Pritam Kotal has learnt the importance of self-belief from his side's victory against Bengaluru FC in the 2019-20 Indian Super League (ISL) play-offs.
The Kolkata based club, then ATK, went on to win their third ISL title in a final played behind closed doors in Goa after beating Chennaiyin FC 3-1. However, they needed to a stunning turnaroudn after suffering a 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their semifinal play-off against Bengaluru FC.
In the reverse leg in Kolkata, Kotal and his teammates knocked Bengaluru out after scripting a drmatic 3-1 win with David Williams scoring a late winner.
Bengaluru FC had scored early through a fifth minute strike by Ashique Kuriniyan but goals from Roy Krishna (30') and David Williams (63', 79') ensured that ATK won the double-legged semi-final 3-2 on aggregate.
"Self-belief is very important and this is what sport teaches us. For example in the semi-finals against Bengaluru FC, in the away match we lost 1-0. When they came to Kolkata (for the second leg) also, they scored first. So we had to score three to qualify for the final," Kotal said in a Live instagram chat with Apollo X Sports.
"When we entered the dressing room at half-time, there was not a single player who thought that we would lose this match. Everyone believed that we will score three goals and go to the final. This is what self belief is all about," he insisted.
Kotal, one of the leading Indian defenders at the moment, feels that the privilege of playing the game itself is a huge motivation for him.
"My motivation itself is football. I chose football to play and become something. The moment I see football I get motivated. Everyday, the thought comes to mind that I can improve further," he said.
Kotal, who runs an academy in Kolkata, feels that not everybody makes it into the top levels of professional football. As such, Kotal puts across the point that aspiring footballers should never ignore their education.
"Whoever plays football but is not as good in it, we encourage them to get educated further. So I tell them to keep playing football but don't neglect education. If not a player, one can become a physio (physiotherapist), fitness trainer, manager or anything else in the sport as well," he added.
Kotal also paid tribute to his national team partner Sandesh Jhingan who has been recently conferred the Arjuna Award.
"I want to congratulate Sandesh Jhingan for winning the Anjuna Award. We have been playing together from the India U-19 team and I feel very proud to have played alongside him," Kotal expounded.