Anas scripts a tale of grit

Hard times almost over for Indian defender

Anas scripts a tale of grit

Anas Edathodika’s journey is an inspiring ‘rags to riches’ story. From riding an autorickshaw in his hometown in Kerala during his growing up years to support his family to being one of the leading central defenders in the country, Anas’ life has come a full circle.

“Actually I never gave it a thought,” he says when asked to put his journey in words.

“It was only after I joined college that I got serious about my game. I went for a few trials and started getting opportunities in professional clubs. Till then I didn’t know what a professional club was. In fact until I joined Mumbai FC, I didn’t know that matches are covered in television,” states Anas, who is now part of the Indian team.

Anas was first recruited in 2007 by Mumbai FC, a second division side then. A fearless youngster who could take on any attacker, Anas became a valuable member of the side, but he was still raw. It was David Booth, the then Mumbai coach, who shaped him to be the man he is today.

“I feel that if that was an Indian coach (at Mumbai) he wouldn’t have picked me,” Anas states.  “I was not that good then. I didn’t know the basics. I used to defend, tackle, kick guys and do anything and everything to win balls. But that’s not defending. David usedtoshout at me for tackling players like a mad man and I learnt from that.”

Being a late entrant to the national team — he made his debut for India at 30 — the defender is now the preferred choice in the central defensive role. And with the Kyrgyzstan game coming up on Tuesday, Anas wants to ensure that nothing is left for chance.

“They are a good side and we have to give them the respect they deserve. The team has played teams of their quality in the past, so they know how to tackle the challenge that Kyrgyzstan would pose. But for me this will be the first time, and I don’t want to leave anything to chance.”

“The Nepal game (friendly, which India won 2-0) too was in tune with this game. That gave us a chance to get our combinations right and gel as a team. This one is the real test.”

Off the pitch things have not been good for this defender from Malappuram district of Kerala. His father, a heart patient, is bed ridden and can barely speak. But for Anas, it’s the nation’s call that comes first.

“His condition isn’t good. But he is happy that I am playing for India. It’s been the dream for me and my dad. But I will go after this (match) and get him treated by a good doctor.”

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