C.K. Vineeth is hopping from one reception venue to other in his hometown, Kannur. And people there seems to have not yet recovered from the ISL hangover. The Kerala Blasters star found time to reach home to have his favorite lunch cooked by his mother.
However, he took some time off his busy schedule to reflect on his new-found stardom. Excerpts from the interview.
You have become a big star. How do you feel?
I can honestly tell I haven’t changed at all. However, I feel happy when people recognize me on the streets. Some come and seek autographs other take photos. I am enjoying those moments. My only complaint is that I am not getting enough time to be with my family.
What changes have the ISL brought to the Indian football?
In a state like Kerala, football always had as many fans as cricket, if not more. The biggest gain for ISL was that it was able to market football at local level. The trend for the game in the State should improve.
What is your opinion about the I League-ISL merger?
I think both leagues should merge and become a big canvas. If it becomes one tournament, players will get more time to recover, injuries will come down and quality of matches will improve. However, I am not the person to take such decision and my job as player is to perform.
Will you quit Blasters next season if you get a good offer from other clubs?
My contract with Kerala Blasters is over and I am going back to Bengaluru FC. I will think of other options once my contract with Bengaluru FC ends. My desire is to play for Blasters again for the sake of Kerala fans.
Do you miss coach Coppell and other foreign players?
Definitely. Coppell’s patience and tolerance helped us a lot. He is a coach who encourages players. The foreign players were also like him. However, it is natural for professional players to switch clubs. We will slowly overcome the sadness of departure.
What were the things you concentrated on the most when you were in the Blasters’ camp?
It is difficult to bear the pain when you are not in form. A player doesn’t become bad overnight when he fails to score goal. The media and fans start criticizing players harshly when players don’t score goals. It makes me feel sad but I tried hard earnestly and concentrated on playing well.
What were your sweet and bitter moments in the ISL?
The bitter moments as everyone knows was when we failed to win the cup for the Kochi fans who deserved it. The team played hard to reach the final. Everyone was shocked when we lost in the final and to me it came before I had recovered from the loss in the AFC cup final in Doha. The memorable moments were when I came as a substitute and scored against Goa and the goals I scored against Chennai.
How much did the encouragement from family helped you in this ISL?
My biggest strength is my father. He never forced me to study or do other things which I didn’t want. He only told me that if I didn’t get admission in a college, my chances of playing football would dwindle. My elder brother is the biggest influence in my career. That is why I feel bad to stay away from them. I got married one-and-half years ago and my wife Sharanya is also aware of my life as a wandering footballer.