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From Indian hockey hopeful to the ISL: Charting Karan Amin's football journey

  • Karan Amin was a promising prospect for Indian hockey before he switched to football and made his way to the ISL.
  • Karan Amin played for the youth teams of Mahindra United, Air India and Mumbai FC
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Modified 09 May 2020, 17:31 IST
Karan Amin played six matches for Jamshedpur FC in the last two seasons
Karan Amin played six matches for Jamshedpur FC in the last two seasons

Unlike most ISL players, football as a profession was something that wasn't entire on Karan Amin's mind during his childhood. As a matter of fact, he was always into hockey and made the jump to the beautiful game only in his junior college days.

Karan Amin spent his youth career playing for the U-19 teams of Mahindra United, Air India, and Mumbai FC before finally being promoted to Mumbai FC's senior team. Thereafter, he played for DSK Shivajians and PIFA SC in the I-League and Second Division respectively, before making the big jump to the ISL with Jamshedpur FC.

In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, the 30-year-old wing-back talks about his stints at various clubs across India and much more.

Here are the excerpts:

Question: We have heard that you were into hockey in your school days. How did you make the jump to football then?

Karan Amin: I never played football in school. It was always hockey. There were students who were a part of both hockey and football school teams. But, I was very inclined to hockey and restricted myself to only one sport. When I opted for science and joined Bhavan's College in Andheri, there was no hockey team. I tried football out there and made it. Since then, I never looked back.

Question: Did your parents raise any objections while picking up football?

Karan Amin: Not at all. Football runs through my genes. My uncle was a semi-professional footballer. So, there were no objections as long as I balanced football and studies.

Question: Take us through your journey while playing for the youth teams of Mahindra United, Air India, and Mumbai FC.

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Karan Amin: I used to play in local tournaments with my friends during college. Mahindra U-19 was my first professional team. After that, I shifted to Air India's U-19 team with whom I participated in the JRD Cup in Jamshedpur among other teams. Then, I signed with Mumbai FC's U-19 team and represented them in the Junior I-League.

The U-19 I-League was also held in Jamshedpur then. I played for them for two years before being promoted to the senior team. It is a mere coincidence that I played twice at Jamshedpur before finally representing their city in the ISL.

Question: We have heard that you are very close with Ashutosh Mehta and Jayesh Rane, who won the I-League and the ISL respectively this season, with their clubs. Can you explain your bonding with them?

Karan Amin: Ashutosh Mehta and I played together at the Mumbai FC's U-19 team. He used to play as a right half then and I functioned as a right back. He became a right-back later. Jayesh got promoted to Mumbai FC's senior team a year later. We have been friends since day one. After our practice, we used to hang out at my house as it was near Mumbai FC. I am very happy with where they are right now. When you know someone for ten years, a special bond is created. I share the same with those two. I would love if we all three could play for the same team once again."

Karan Amin (left) with Ashutosh Mehta (centre) and Jayesh Rane (right)
Karan Amin (left) with Ashutosh Mehta (centre) and Jayesh Rane (right)

Question: You also played for DSK Shivajians in the I-League and later, for PIFA SC in the Second Division. How did those deals happen?

Karan Amin: I got to know about DSK's trial from Keegan Pereira. There were tons of ex I-League players, Indian Arrows players, and the competition was tough. But, Pradyumn Reddy decided to give me a chance and I made it to the squad. I signed later with PIFA and played in the Second Division I-League in Dhanbad. Although we couldn't qualify for the final round, it was a great experience.

Question: You made the jump directly from Second Division to ISL in 2018 when you signed with Jamshedpur FC. How did that breakthrough come about?

Karan Amin: I was on a three-month trial. Ishfaq Ahmed, Prashant Godbole, and Mukul Choudhari were the coaches then. I requested them for a trial and they helped me out. I was initially nervous as I was thinking of making a big jump from the Second Division to ISL. But, the coaches were really helpful. Finally, Steve Coppell decided to sign me in the January transfer window.

Karan Amin opens up on ISL experience with Tim Cahill

Karan Amin rubbed shoulders with Tim Cahill in 2018-19 (Image credits: Jamshedpur FC)
Karan Amin rubbed shoulders with Tim Cahill in 2018-19 (Image credits: Jamshedpur FC)

Question: Tim Cahill, one of the legends in global football, was Jamshedpur's marquee player in the 2018-19 ISL season. You shared the dressing room with him. Can you share that feeling?

Karan Amin: Tim is on a totally different level. I cannot even describe him. He played so many World Cups and in the Premier League, he scored so many goals. When Tim came in, he met with everyone and talked generously. He was really nice. there was not even one day when he spoke negatively. He used to always help the youngsters and was very cordial. And, the amount of experience he had and the way he shared it with us was very special. I feel really lucky that Jamshedpur FC was the last club he played for and I got the opportunity to share the dressing room with him.

Question: You also have an AIFF D License for coaching. When did it occur to you that you need to get a license in coaching?

Karan Amin: I really like coaching and I want to coach kids. I feel really lucky that I could play football at this level. But, I know there are so many kids in Mumbai and India who are passionate about football but they do not get proper coaching. D License is the basic you need to do to be able to do this properly. Mumbai has such a big pool of talent and I want to help them. I know Darren (Caldeira) and Steven Dias are doing an amazing job. Floyd Pinto (former India U-19 coach) and Anthony Fernandes (Mumbai City FC assistant coach) are doing an amazing job. When there are good coaches, it is easy to learn under them.

Karan Amin (right) in action during Jamshedpur FC
Karan Amin (right) in action during Jamshedpur FC's training session in the 2017-18 season

Question: Apart from Mumbai City FC and their reserve side, there are no clubs from Mumbai and Maharashtra as a whole in the first three divisions of India. Do you think this is a loss to the state given its talent?

Karan Amin: I hope people realize the talent in Mumbai, first and foremost. Mumbai FC has been shut down, DSK (Shivajians) has been shut down, Pune FC is not playing and Air India is playing only local leagues. It is an amazing feeling to represent your city. I hope there is more football happening in Mumbai and Maharashtra as well. Unless there are local clubs to showcase talents, not everyone will benefit in the city. It is not easy for everyone to go to some other city, give trials and shape a career in an unknown location. Many can't even afford it. There might also be some restriction due to family issues or education. So when they have a club in their own city, it is special for them.

Question: Any message to the youngsters who are trying to make it big in Indian football?

Karan Amin: Never give up because if I can make it so far, then anyone can. It is not rocket science. You need to work hard every day, be passionate about it, follow the football in your country and not listen to people who speak negatively about it. Just stay away from people like those and keep on moving forward.

Published 09 May 2020, 13:07 IST
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