Lyngdoh: Shillong's son, India's idol

"Just another drop-out, can't handle the demands of engineering," they said when a young Eugeneson quit pursuing his engineering degree at Pune and went back to his home town to play football. Little did they know that the journey towards the top of Indian football started that very day for Eugeneson Lyngdoh.

PUNIT PARANJPE / AFP

In the recently concluded Indian Super League Drafts/Auction, he became the second highest paid footballer in the country as FC Pune City secured his services for Rs 1.05 crores. An extremely shy lad in person, Lyngdoh is anything but that on the field - a box-to-box midfielder who has a knack of popping in the odd goals and the vision to free the strikers! Lyngdoh's story is a testimony to the fact that all you need is determination to succeed in young and hungry nation like India.

Journey To The Top

Eugene, as he is popularly known, was an instrumental part of coach Ashley Westwood's Bengaluru FC that challenged Mohun Bagan for the Hero I-League title very last season. In only his first season with the Blues, the midfielder from Shillong became the heart-throb of Indian football lovers with his deft touches and excellent box-to-box movements, providing some much needed energy in Bengaluru FC's midfield.

Eugene was 20 when he quit engineering and returned to Shillong to play for his childhood club Ar Hima (now called Rangdajied United). He spent five years at the club, steadily growing in stature and catching the eye of cross town favourites Shillong Lajong. It was at Lajong where Eugeneson met coach Pradhyum Reddy, who took the youngster under his wing and turned him into a creative midfielder. When the coach made a move to Bengaluru FC, it wasn't surprising to see his disciple do the same in the following year. Today under the management of coach Ashley Westwood and Pradhyum Reddy, Bengaluru FC has announced itself a big gun in Indian football with an attack led by Sunil Chhetri, Robin Singh and Eugeneson.

His brilliant debut season with BFC also brought him into national reckoning as coach Stephen Constantine picked him in the squad for the World Cup qualifiers. His delayed entry into the national fold, though, has baffled many, including Constantine himself, which prompted the gaffer to say, “Where was Eugene all this while? I’m surprised he has not played for India before,” after India's qualifier against Nepal.

The Future Is Bright

Indian Football has shown a phenomenal rise in popularity with the advent of the Indian Super League. Now it is up to our footballers to match the quality of football with the levels of expectations. This is exactly what the likes Eugeneson and Jackichand Singh are doing. The world is at his feet for Shillong's son. Will he and his colleagues inspire a new era for football in the country? Let's wait and watch.

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