In conversation with Syed Rahim Nabi22-May, 2012
Syed Rahim Nabi is the most utile player a football team could have. Since Jo Paul Ancheri, Nabi is one player who can play in any position in a football team, except as goalkeeper. Born on April 14, 1985, he has represented India in various age groups. A student of Tata Football Academy, he played in Mohammedan Sporting and Kingfisher East Bengal before joining McDowell Mohun Bagan last season. He recently received the Indian Footballer of the Year in FPAI Indian Football Awards 2012.
MMB: Congrats Nabi on winning Best Indian Footballer of the year award.
Nabi: Thanks a lot. I had a more or less good season, gave my best while playing for Mohun Bagan and India, but unfortunately Mohun Bagan failed to win any trophy last season.
MMB: What do you think was the reason behind McDowell Mohun Bagan not winning any trophies?
Nabi: Injuries to many crucial players was a big concern. At one time, we were very confident of winning the I-League this year, but we lost a few points in easy matches and also as I said we did not get the service of some key players of the team in all the matches. Hopefully, in the next season, we will win a few trophies.
MMB: In which match do you think your performance was the best this year?
Nabi: Winning the derby games definitely gave a lot of satisfaction, but I think my best performance was against Churchill Brothers in Goa. We won the match 3-2. I also gave my team the lead in the match against Sporting de Goa held in Kolkata, but the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
MMB: In the match against Churchill Brothers, though you were playing in the left back position, Odafa scored one of the goals from your cross which you delivered from the right side. How did that happen?
Nabi: (laughing) Yes, I was playing as a left back in that match, but I switched flanks and made an overlap run down the right side which resulted in that goal. It really gave me a lot of satisfaction.
MMB: Did the TD ask you to switch flanks?
Nabi: No, it was my spontaneous decision during the match.
MMB: You also have the knack of scoring goals.
Nabi: When I used to play as a striker, I scored a lot of goals. Afterwards, when I switched to side back and side half positions, I continued scoring goals. While playing in East Bengal, I scored a lot of goals.
MMB: Which was the best goal you scored this year?
Nabi: The 1st goal that I scored against Lajong was very good. I scored by lobbing the ball over the goalkeeper's head. We won the match 6-1. The goal against Sporting de Goa, however, was more important.
MMB: This year you have mostly played as a left back, are you a left footed player?
Nabi: No, I am a natural right footer, but now I can cross the ball with both my legs.
MMB: Which is your favourite position?
Nabi: I can play in any position the coach asks me to play. Previously, I used to play only as a forward, but for the last few years I am more comfortable in side back or side half, though this year also I have played as a striker for McDowell Mohun Bagan in a couple of matches. Even this year, I have played in the central midfield as well, but still playing as a striker gives me most satisfaction.
MMB: What is the secret of your great endurance on field?
Nabi: (laughing) I work a lot on my fitness. You know, my favourite sports persons are P. T. Usha, Nadal and Messi. I really used to admire P. T. Usha's speed.
MMB: How would you rate your performance for the Indian team?
Nabi: I was part of the Indian team which won the SAFF Cup, I was extremely satisfied with my performance in that tournament. As I have already said, I scored a hattrick in South Africa earlier in my career.
I was also part of the Indian team in the Asian Cup qualifiers and World Cup qualifiers and was of course part of the squad that won 2 Nehru Cups and 2008 AFC Challenge Cup under Bob Houghton.
MMB: Which has been the best year of your career?
Nabi: Can't name any one year.
MMB: Which ground would you rate as the best in India?
Nabi: Nehru Stadium, Goa.
MMB: What are your future plans?
Nabi: I would like to be a football coach in my village.
MMB: Any message for the supporters.
Nabi: Keep supporting us. We will give our best in the next season and will surely win trophies next year.
MMB: Thanks for talking to us and best of luck for the coming season Nabi.
Nabi: Thanks a lot.
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