Renedy Singh’s journey to Bulgarian heavyweight club CSKA Sofia started almost two decades ago – from being a member of the second batch of graduates of the elite Tata Football Academy in the year 1996. He was one of the most promising talents which came out of the elite academy. East Bengal was the first club where he signed his first professional contract in 1997.
He had an impressive stint with the Kolkata club and his promising performance earned him a national a team call-up at the tender age of 18 in only his second season. He had already established himself as dead-ball specialist and was praised for his ability to run down the wings and generating killer crosses.
In 2000, he was roped in by another Kolkata giant, Mohun Bagan. Renedy soon became an integral part of the Mohun Bagan side which won the National League title that season. Also, his performance was noteworthy for the national team – which managed to lift an international trophy, LG Cup, under coach Stephen Constantine. The Manipuri was particularly praised for his ability to use both his feet with similar vigor. Renedy could play in either flank as required.
Career revival in JCT
Just when he was growing as a player, he suffered a career threatening injury that kept him out of playing action for quite some time. Soon he lost his first team position as his form took a dip. He left Mohun Bagan and joined another Kolkata side United Sports Club, then known as Chirag United.
His career took a turn the coming season when he left the minnow club to join Punjab-based club JCT. He regained full fitness and soon found his lost form. Renedy was back in shape and did exceptionally well for the Punjab side. He also did well for the national side during this tenure. Along with Sunil Chhetri, Renedy guided JCT to a successful campaign in the 2006/2007 National Football League. They eventually finished runners-up behind Mahindra United.
In 2007, after Bob Houghton took charge of the Indian national side, Renedy became a regular member of the starting lineup and was an important member of the team. He was mostly deployed in the left wing position as Steven Dias played on the right side. Renedy’s style of play suited Houghton’s tactics as the British preferred wing-play. He was a member of the side which lifted the Nehru Cup trophy for the first time in 2007.
International swansong in AFC Cup
In 2008 he came to Kolkata and signed for East Bengal again, his first club. His first season went well with the Kolkata side but soon his form deteriorated yet again. He was plagued by injuries too and could not perform up to his mark. The next season was a nightmare for the midfielder as he could hardly find any playing time with the club. The succeeding season he was released. But he continued to earn Bob Houghton’s favour as he was still a regular member of the Indian squad.
His last major international tournament was the AFC Asian Cup in 2011. India had got an opportunity to participate in the tournament by winning the AFC Challenge Cup 3 years before. India was unfortunately placed in the group of death of the tournament alongside giants Australia, South Korea and Bahrain.
India bowed out of the completion in a humiliating manner losing all the three games with heavy margins. India’s best performance was against Bahrain where they managed to find the back of the net twice. One of the goals was scored by Renedy Singh. It was an impeccable goal by the winger. Renedy dodged one defender gracefully and took a stunning long range attempt at goal. The ball hit the crossbar and dropped inside. Renedy was simply outstanding in that game.
India’s silent warrior
After the tournament, he retired from international football at the of 32. He was unable to find a top tier club in India and eventually signed for Bhaichung Bhutia owned United Sikkim FC who played in the second division.
The succeeding year he signed for Shillong Lajong FC. Unfortunately, he had lost his touch and speed and was mostly ineffective. After almost two years, the Manipuri midfielder came back to the limelight after he signed for Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters FC. He was used only in two games. Age has seen his losing his pace. He is no longer effective on the wings.
2015 has brought a new turn into his career, as most recently news came that Renedy has joined top-tier Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia on loan from the ISL franchisee. It will be interesting for Indian football fans to see whether Renedy is given playing time.
Time will tell if Renedy gets to play with the actual side or not, but the Manipuri has yet again made India proud, silently.
As Sunil Chhetri had said earlier, Renedy Singh is undoubtedly the most underrated Indian player of the last decade. He has never grabbed the limelight but has always performed silently with great consistency.Published 01 Mar 2015, 00:50 IST