Subrata Paul has been one of the best goalkeepers in Indian football in the 21st century and is still going strong at the age of 33. He recently moved to Indian Super League (ISL) side Hyderabad FC after spending three seasons at Jamshedpur FC.
He started his senior career back in 2004 with Mohun Bagan at the age of 16 and has now spent 17 seasons at the top-tier of Indian football.
The Hyderabad FC goalkeeper feels that his passion for the game keeps him going. "There’s no stage in the life of any footballer. All such stages are scripted in the mind of others who feel they can dismiss someone as he is over 30," Paul told Goal.
“My passion has no end. Come and practice with me and I will practice with you like I used to do as a 16-year-old. Of course for that, I need to spend extra hours looking at my body, because however hard you may try, we are not getting younger. But you can overcome age making sacrifices at various levels.
Paul is keen on continuing for a few more years at the top level before even thinking of hanging his boots up.
“I intend to carry on until the youngsters come up and push me out. However, there will be a day when my body and mind will tell me that sleep is perhaps more comfortable than going to either the gym, pool or the ground. That day I will get the call from inside that maybe I need to move away. But knowing myself, that day is far away.”
The Bengali goalkeeper had some valuable tips for the current crop of young goalkeepers. Last few years, many young goalkeepers have grabbed the limelight on social media for a couple of good performances but their form has since dropped off. Paul feels that the youngsters should not let social media affect themselves and focus on their job.
He said, “These days the impact of social media is treacherous. People start feeling the stardom in their own minds after a couple of performances.
“I have seen many talented youngsters getting engrossed or so much engaged over social media that they tend to forget their duties and their ambitions. They need to understand that social media won’t make them stars. So, you need to filter it.
“A fan on social media mentioning that you ought to be star won’t make you a star. For that, you need to get back to the basics and open the book again and script your own future. It’s in your hands.”
The experienced goalkeeper has a sea experience in international and has represented the country for more than 10 years with great consistency. The former Jamshedpur custodian shared what kept him going at the highest for such a long time.
“There is no secret. It’s an open book and it mentions that you can never cheat in any profession – be it in your practice, commitment, match build-up, diet, etc. The moment you cheat, you allow others to go a step forward than you.
“Life of a footballer is all about sacrifices. So as a player you need to ask your inner self – are you ready to sacrifice? If yes, you will walk the road for long. If not, you will hit a roadblock sooner or later. That book also says that every day is a new day.
“As a player I am (we all are) as good as the last match. So we need to build on the positives and prepare again, and again, and again, and again. If you rest on past laurels, you are gone.”