Indian national football team player Ashutosh Mehta began his ISL journey in 2014 when he represented FC Pune City on loan from I-League club Mumbai FC. The Stallions picked him in the third round of the inaugural ISL draft and Mehta got the opportunity to share the dressing room with 1998 FIFA World Cup winner David Trezeguet.
Mumbai City FC drafted him into their team for the next two ISL seasons and another dream for Mehta came true as he got the opportunity to play alongside Uruguayan legend Diego Forlan.
In 2017, the current NorthEast United FC defender signed for ATK, who had Tottenham Hotspur legend Robbie Keane in their ranks at the time.
Mehta was ecstatic as he reaped the fruits of years of hard work. Speaking to Sportskeeda, he said:
"I used to watch them on TV and then when I started playing alongside them, I felt like I achieved something in my life for the first time. It was my honor to share the dressing room with them."
Despite playing in Europe's biggest leagues, Diego Forlan and Robbie Keane were extremely humble. Mehta claims he is still in touch with his former ISL teammates.
"I got to learn a lot from them both on the pitch and off the pitch. The best part was all of them were very approachable, especially (Diego) Forlan and Robbie Keane. I am still in touch with them. If I want to know anything, they will still advise me what to do and what not to do. It was a great experience and an honor," Mehta added.
Ashutosh Mehta names Diego Forlan and Robbie Keane in his best five-a-side team
With over ten years of experience playing in India's top football leagues, Ashutosh Mehta has played alongside numerous players in his career. When asked to form his best five-a-side team comprising players he has played with or against, Mehta chose Indian national football team captain Sunil Chhetri as the lead striker.
He put Mumbai City FC goalkeeper Amrinder Singh behind the sticks and former national team defender Anwar Ali at the back. To fill the remaining two spots, Ashutosh Mehta chose former ISL marquee players Diego Forlan and Robbie Keane.
"This is a difficult question for me. Amrinder (Singh) on the goal, Anwar Ali at the back, Sunil (Chhetri) bhai upfront, and the rest two will be Robbie Keane and Diego Forlan," Ashutosh Mehta concluded.
After ten years of blood, sweat, and tears, Ashutosh Mehta finally got his due reward on March 2021 when he made his Indian national football team debut against Oman in an international friendly match.
By intercepting the ball in the final third and passing it to Bipin Singh, Ashutosh Mehta bagged a pre-assist in the only goal India had scored. The Indian national football team will return to action in June when they take on Qatar, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at Doha.