"It is always a dream for me to play for the Indian National Team" says Paranveer Singh
Paranveer Singh, a 23-year-old Indo-British footballer, who has been on the books of clubs like West Ham United, Leyton Orient, Watford FC, Notts County FC, Ventura County Fusion (USA), Chelmsford City FC and Millwall FC recently declared his intentions of playing for India, and in the Indian Super League and other domestic league in India. We sat down with him for a heart-to-heart chat about his decision.
How would you sum up your career in England?
Summing up my career in England is very difficult to put into words. It has been the most hectic rollercoaster, to say the least.
There have been many good times and with those come bad times too. I am proud of the name I have built for myself and what I have achieved for myself.
For those who know football, you will know how difficult it is to even remain in the game and I can say I have consistently done so which is not easy to do especially with the competition and the evolution of football. From nurturing talent to clubs now being able to afford to go out there and buy the best talent.
The clubs I have been with have always been good to me, I am fortunate enough to have a good network and some very good individuals in and around football but also in clubs.
The guys who have helped me and got me to where I am today which includes the directors, coaches, managers, agents etc. Without naming them, I will thank them individually and I am sure they will keep an eye out on the development on the next stage of my career in India.
I cannot thank these people enough because without them things could be a whole lot different.
You have indicated that you would like to be a professional in India? Why have you made this decision?
First and foremost, this decision to come to India has taken a lot of time, I’m talking years worth of discussions, thinking and consulting. I don’t think it's hard to notice that I am extremely passionate about football in India, my family and friends will back me up on that.
Since the first time I was involved in football in India aged 16, I have gone on to build knowledge, experience and some very good friends. After the first time, I played football in India, I really felt like I was at home, I felt like I had a purpose and I really enjoyed the experience,
Being a part of the growth of football in India but also being in front of the fans. The decision comes at the right stage of my life, I am motivated and inspired by this challenge and the next step in my career.
An attractive factor of this decision was how it all came together, by this I mean by the opportunity that I have to really create something special on the pitch but also the opportunities off the pitch. The most important thing about this all was the timing and for that, there will never be a better time.
I believe it was in my destiny to return to India as a footballer, the ambitions and long term goals I have were too good to turn down and I hope I fulfil these because I am coming to India with big ambitions, big dreams and I am ready to work my socks off to get to them.
Explain the process of acquiring Indian Citizenship. Have you had to indicate that you would like to be a professional in India?
The complication does come with the citizenship. It is something that was an important thing to think about which in all honesty was a huge deciding factor if I would be able to make this move or not.
I am fortunate again to have a good team who will be assisting me legally, we know in the first year the citizenship will be an obstacle however this obstacle has to be overcome and we are prepared to overcome it. I am sure after getting the first year under my belt, I will be flying.
The goals and ambitions I have are in the long term so I do not expect anything to happen overnight or anything to happen straight away. Nothing in life comes easy and I will be the first to admit that but it is vital to be determined, committed and resilient.
At this stage without letting too much out the bag, what I can say is that I have ambitions of representing the national team. That has always been a dream for me.
What do you think of the present situation of football in India? How do you think it has to improve?
Football in India is tough, I think everybody will agree that the potential it has based on the population and passion that it is not where it should be. It is growing year by year and I am lucky to be able to witness the growth. It is a process and Indian football is going through that process, I believe in Indian football and I am dedicated to Indian football.
This next chapter is not only a personal journey for me but it is also for the impact that I can have in Indian football and what I can bring to the table. Like my journey, Indian football will not be where it needs to be overnight or after a couple of years but the most important thing is we build on it and we work towards where we should be.
Which is your favourite ISL club?
Away from being a footballer I am a huge fan of Indian football and I do love the ISL. It is a fun, exciting tournament and it is building year on year. I personally cannot wait to play in the ISL but I do not have any favourite!
I am honestly a fan of the football and I enjoy all the teams. I do regularly keep up to date with the ISL and I am always reading about it.
The big names are definitely helping the tournament to grow and one day I hope to play with the names that I grew up watching and supporting. I have some good friends and people I know in the ISL and so I look forward to seeing what the future holds.
Do you know about the proposed merger by AIFF?
Yeah, I have been reading bits and bobs based around this. It definitely sounds exciting and something that will be huge for football in India.
The right people that are behind the decision and behind the thoughts of it only want the best for the structure of Indian football and everybody in India wants the same including myself.
No matter what the league is, I want to be playing and playing at the highest level. Indian football is not to be underestimated and I know that it will be tough for me as a player and I will not take anything for granted.
I know I have to work hard and be on top form which is something I have prepared myself for.
Did you ever wish to play for the England national team? Would you choose India over England if you did?
It is always a dream for me to play for my national team. In a previous interview, I did for Sportskeeda I spoke about my desire to play for the India national team and how much that would mean to me.
Of course, I would love to do that and that is one thing I will work towards from the word go.
Personally, I have many reasons as to why I would I would represent India over England. I don’t think it would be fair to mention those reasons as they are my personal views and opinions however I would choose India over England but for now, neither of those opportunities have come to my door.
As I have said I will work hard to get that call-up and represent the nation.
Do you intend to return to Europe in the future? What are your hopes and aspirations for the future?
I am being careful and humble in not thinking too far ahead. Of course I have ambitions and long-term goals but for now I am committed and dedicated to Indian football. I am excited to get playing and really making a name for myself in India.
I do not know what the future holds right now, but what I am sure about is, I will be in India soon and playing. I will do whatever I can to make a positive impact and a huge change in football in India forever.
I hope to first and foremost perform at the highest level, to play in the biggest leagues with clubs where I am comfortable, enjoying my football and playing in front of the fans.
As I have mentioned a few times I have aspirations to represent the national team but also contribute off the pitch in any way I can. With my knowledge and experience from playing in the UK and USA, I hope to bring that to football in India.
Most of all, I hope to make my family, friends and all Indians proud.
There is obviously a lot of difference between the footballing culture of India and England, will it be difficult for you to adjust?
I have experience of being in India and playing football in India so I know what I’m in for and I know what to be prepared for. I have a good team around me who will definitely help me and make the transition as smooth as possible.
It will not be easy for me to adjust in terms of the weather and conditions but I will get used to it, It is a great opportunity for me and one I will take with both hands. I know for sure it will be difficult and have ups and downs but I am excited about this.
The sacrifices I am making for this move are huge, I am coming out of my comfort zone and away from my family and friends, away from my everyday life but I have never been shy about taking on challenges and I know this will benefit not only my career but myself as an individual and my life as a whole.
I would like to thank Sportskeeda for giving me the opportunity to do this interview again. This is a special interview for me and one I was always going to be involved in as Sportskeeda were the first media outlet that conducted my first interview when I was 17 years old. The support you guys have shown me has been great and I look forward to working with you again and sharing my football journey with you.