A dream night for India's Jeakson

A dream night for India's Jeakson

The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium had rarely witnessed such electrifying scenes. A crowd of 48,000 plus following every move of the Indian team, sighing and cheering in unison. It did not have a fairytale ending but left them with a lasting image. Of Jeakson Singh leaping high in the air and heading the ball into the Colombian net.

The sweet memory of that moment will linger for a while. “I am very happy and I thank my teammates for giving me the opportunity to score. Everybody was congratulating me last night but I was also disappointed that we couldn’t win,” said Jeakson whose stunning header in the 82nd minute of the Monday night enrolled him in the pages of Indian football history.

The Manipuri, from Thoubal district, has been training at the Chandigarh Football Academy (CFA) from the age of 11. The defensive midfielder had initially participated in the under-16 I-league before moving to the Minerva Punjab FC Academy. That proved to be the turning point for the youngster who was overlooked by the then Indian coach Nicolai Adam in the AIFF trials in 2015.

“At CFA, you are given was basic training. There was no one to tell what role I have in my position. When I went to Minerva, I learnt a lot from my seniors and it changed my game,” Jeakson said.

“The owners had confidence in my abilities. They gave me chances, fielded me in the senior team because of which I played in Durand Cup and DSK Cup.”

Jeakson played a key role in the club’s academy team which would go on to win the AIFF under-15 and under-16 Youth League titles for two successive years. He was finally noticed by team’s COO Abhishek Yadav. “He had a different presence on the pitch. He has the height, good composure on the ball and he is good in the air. I was sure he would fit Luis’ specifications,” Yadav recalled.

Jeakson, who missed the opening match, could articulately narrate the moment he could cherish for life. “We had changed the positions at the last moment. Earlier Anwar Ali was supposed to go for the first post and I was to come at the second post. But he asked me to change the positions. I had a feeling the ball will come to me. When the player tried to mark me, I ran. The ball came perfectly to me and I jumped,” he said.

With their final group match against Ghana on Thursday, Jeakson said they were determined to not repeat their mistakes. “The second goal against Colombia was disappointing. We have learned from it, the coach said we got emotional. We will not repeat it,” he signed off.

Meanwhile, Jeakson’s mother Bilashini Devi explained his passion for football in a chat with a news agency. I remember once he fasted for more than two days because I told him to stop playing football and concentrate on his studies,” she said.

DH News Service

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