Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Iker Casillas, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Raul, Guti, Claude Makelele. Souvik Chakrabarti was one of the few Indian youngsters to join an elite list of players to have shared a dressing room with Brazil and Real Madrid legend Roberto Carlos when Delhi Dynamos signed the legendary full-back as a marquee player-cum-coach in 2015.
One of the best left-backs to have touched a football, Roberto Carlos’ trophy cabinet is filled to the brim with some of the most coveted silverware. He won the La Liga four times and the Champions League thrice with Real Madrid. With Brazil, the defender became a World Champion during the 2002 edition.
Among individual accolades, Roberto Carlos entered numerous Team of the Year lists and most notably stood on the podium of the 2002 Ballon d’Or. When Delhi Dynamos signed him as a player-manager in 2015, the Brazilian became the most decorated player to be directly involved with Indian football.
However, his impact as a player was limited, given he played just three games that season. Despite the shortage of game-time, Roberto Carlos had a solid impact on the players with his training regimens and strong words. Goal caught up with Souvik Chakrabarti who was in charge of defensive duties on the right as the Brazilian managed the left flank in the two games they played together.
Originally a central midfielder, 27-year-old played as a right-back under Roberto Carlos and made the role his own ever since. He explained how the former Real Madrid star enabled him to display his versatility.
“In ISL-2, I was signed as a central midfielder, but I was played at full-back during one of the practice games. I guess my performance in that position must have been good enough for him to see and opt to continue playing me in that position. In a way it is good that I can play in multiple positions because that benefits the team and helps me in my career as well,” he said.
Souvik experienced a unique training routine under Roberto Carlos where every session had a ball involved. He claimed that it helped develop a good understanding between the players.
“Roberto Carlos never had a session without a ball. Every session was with a ball, just as the Brazilians like to do. Be it a tactical or a technical session or anything. I believe that was one of the reasons why there was a good understanding among players, and it was also something that I experienced first time,” the full-back explained.
An unbeatable spirited and unbreakable mental toughness is what separates the champions from the pretenders. The Delhi Dynamos squad was subject to Roberto Carlos’ inspiring tales that he accumulated throughout his glorious career. Souvik spoke about how the Brazilian got the best out of his team in every game.
“He was part of the great teams of Brazil and Real Madrid. Although he never shared any story personally with me, he would always use anecdotes from his career before important games. He would tell us how they approached a similar situation back then.
“He shared the sacrifices they had to make and their seriousness when it came to preparations for games. He always told us to have that killer instinct in games, and made sure that he and the team gave one hundred per cent every time,” he said.
At the end of the 2015 ISL season, Roberto Carlos decided it was time to hang the boots that produced the famous ‘impossible’ free-kick against France in 1997. His coaching career was also short-lived and he is currently the brand ambassador of former club Real Madrid.
Souvik went on to win the Federation Cup with Mohun Bagan the following season. After impressive stints at Jamshedpur FC and Mumbai City FC – with who he made the play-off in the 2018-19 season – the defender recently joined Hyderabad FC. It should be interesting to see in which position he continues to play at the new club.