New Delhi, Jun 1 (IANS): Bengaluru FC midfielder Suresh Singh Wangjam, who has signed a new five-year deal with Bengaluru FC to ensure his stay with the club until the end of the 2027-28 season, has said that he always saw his future with the club.
The 22-year-old joined from the Indian Arrows in 2019 and has since made 84 appearances in all competitions for the club, contributing with one goal and three assists. He holds immense significance for the Blues and is a constant presence at the heart of Bengaluru FC's midfield.
"It was an easy decision for me. This city is my second home, and I started my professional career here, in this club. The fans and the club also really loved me. So I'm really delighted to be here," Wangjam told BFC TV.
Hailing from Manipur, the midfielder was a member of the AIFF Elite Academy that trained for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup. He further represented the Indian U17s side, which participated in the tournament. Following the event, Wangjam was selected to join the Indian Arrows team.
After a two-year stint with the All India Football Federation-owned team, he joined the Indian Super League (ISL) side ahead of the 2019-20 season. In his debut season in the ISL, the midfielder caught the eye of many with his composure on the ball and positional discipline.
"I still remember when I first joined here. It was during the 2019-20 season when we lost in the semifinals. I even gave a penalty (laughs).
When I joined here, I was just thinking of getting some game time. But I believe I have also done a great job here. At the same time, I have been surrounded by good people, and to be honest, I have really improved on and off the pitch. So I think it's been a great journey here," Wangjam said.
The progress he has made since joining the Blues has been remarkable. He has effectively showcased his skills and attributes, resulting in him being honoured with the 2020-21 AIFF Emerging Player of the Year award.
Wangjam is someone who relishes his time on the pitch, embraces responsibilities, and fights for every ball. The beauty of his game lies in the artistry of his movements, the precision of his passing, and his relentless work rate.
The Blues' no. 6 spoke highly of his previous coaches for placing their trust in him and contributing to his development as the player he is today.
"The coach trusted me a lot, and at the same time, he gave me more responsibility because playing as the number six in the team is a big responsibility. I want to thank the coach for believing in me. And yes, at the same time, it also brings pressure on me. But I love taking pressure, and I'm really enjoying it as well. Day by day and game by game, I also want to improve," said the midfielder.
The midfielder also reminisced about the time he signed for the club and the warm reception he received from both the club and its supporters.
He expressed his gratitude towards the Blues' faithful, acknowledging them as 'one of the best' in the country. He revealed that the love and affection from the fans played a significant role in his decision to sign the new contract.
"I don't know if 'lucky' is the right word, but when I joined here, I felt very fortunate. In the first season itself, the fans and the club welcomed me in a warm and friendly way. So, I always saw my future here only. I think that made me feel more at ease because I can't describe in words how much the fans love me and how much they love the club. I can proudly say that they are one of the best fan bases in the country. Signing (a new contract) was very easy for me because of them. I want to give my best for the club," Wangjam said.
The Indian international now dreams of playing in the biggest continental competition with Bengaluru FC and is determined to work hard in the coming seasons to fulfil this aspiration.
"We, as a club, have the dream of playing in the AFC Champions League, which is the biggest competition in Asia. So, yes, we are dreaming of that. But at the same time, we really need to work hard to achieve that goal," he said.
Prior to the 2022-23 season, Wangjam suffered an injury during the pre-season, causing him to miss out on the knockout stages of the Durand Cup, in which Bengaluru FC emerged victorious.
After recovering from his injury, Wangjam faced difficulties in regaining his form, coinciding with Bengaluru FC's challenging start to their ISL campaign.
The midfielder commends the Blues' head coach, Simon Grayson, for standing by his side during that phase and consistently pushing through those challenging times. He believes that support greatly contributed to his recovery and helped him regain his form.
"Firstly, I'd really like to thank the coach and the coaching staff because, to be honest, at the start of the season, I wasn't in form. I was injured during the pre-season, so I wasn't able to pick up my form. But the good part was that the coach trusted me, believed in me, and gave me a lot of chances. I think it was a great decision made by him as well," Wangjam stated.
"During that time, we were also losing many games. So, I just want to express my gratitude to him. He taught me small things, but in the game, they make a big difference," he added.