Shillong, Apr 4: India international and ATK midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh is unhappy to see his former club Shillong Lajong bow out of the I-League.

“It’s really sad to see Lajong get relegated from the I-League,” Lyngdoh was quoted as saying on the All India Football Federation website today. “We need to have a club from our state in the top flight in order to keep players coming through from the state.”

The feature on the AIFF website is titled ‘The Shillong Boy Who Never Gave Up’ and it charts Lyngdoh’s rise in football from playing for Ar-Hima (the precursor to Rangdajied United), his unsuccessful stint in engineering college (“My mind was never in books,” he said) to the injury that he struggled to overcome to get back on the pitch.

Lyngdoh’s big break was to move from the likes of Lajong and Rangdajied and into Bengaluru FC, who have shaken up club football in the country.

With the Blues, Lyngdoh has won two Federation Cup titles and one I-League as well as getting to the final of the AFC Cup in 2016, which was a first for an Indian club.

“I had a dream of playing the AFC Cup for a long time,” Lyngdoh said. “We came so close to winning it at Bengaluru FC. That final was a really special moment for me.”

The midfielder was then snapped up by ATK for over Rs 1 crore in the draft prior to the 2017-18 season, but he then suffered a massive setback by tearing his lateral collateral ligament in his left knee.

When he was told that he required surgery, he didn’t hesitate because all he wanted to do was get back to playing football. But the recovery process was long and lonely.

“It was not as if I did not have any friends. But what you have to understand is that when you are in a team, you are always surrounded by your fellow players,” the 32-year-old said. “When you are recovering from a serious injury, you spend weeks or months in your hotel room, while your team mates are out travelling. It’s a very dark place, and I would not wish it upon any player.”

His family and girlfriend, as well as his faith in God, helped him get through all this, he added. But his own mental strength and determination must’ve also played a huge part and this is reflected in his advice to youngsters, which goes, “Never be arrogant about anything. Always keep yourself grounded. Stay positive and determined all throughout. You need to stay mentally strong to keep your dreams alive.”

(File photo)

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