Dehradun boy Anirudh Thapa, who won the man of the match award last night for his splendid performance as his side Chennayin FC beat the reigning ISL Champions , ATK after coming back from a goal down to win by a 2-1 margin, was heaped loads of praise by his head coach and former Aston Villa boss John Gregory, who believes he can do great things for the national side.
Thapa, 20, has yet to appear for the senior national side, but has been a constant representative in the U14 to U19 age groups. He was among the selected few AIFF academy members who were handed a developmental stint at French side FC Metz earlier this year.
Gregory has managed to make the most of Thapa's young abilities; he has been using him in bits and pieces throughout the current season so that the midfielder could rake up important minutes and game experience under his belt. Thapa has so far been a part of 10 matches this season, with a goal and assist to his name and after his great performance against ATK, orchestrating the midfield and attack after attack, it was no wonder his coach was all over his game.
"He's a great passer of the ball and someone who has great feet. He's got a good first touch and he looks after the ball, he's quick and knows how to keep the ball in control and moving which adds to his credit as a good midfield player," said Gregory
"He needs minutes under his belt and guidance. He played the full game tonight, there was a point where we thought of taking him off but decided it would do him better to play the full 90 minutes. I think he's going to be a huge player for his country and he's going to be around for a very long time. Stephen Constantine would be crazy to overlook him in the senior side. He's real talent. Tonight was his best performance I've seen since I've been at the club," Gregory further added.
The boy himself, whose favourite player is Eugeneson Lyngdoh, was also quite humble when told about his coach's golden words of praise about him and believes he just needs to keep doing what he does to get the call.
"It feels great to be given such chances and to know that the boss is trusting me," he said. "I just need to work hard and it's all up to them. I just need to prove myself when given the chance," he further added.