Uttam Rai ready to bounce back after a series of injuries

Siliguri, 10 Jan:

Dubbed to be the next big thing in Indian Football due to his impressive performances at junior level, Uttam Rai from Sikkim could not live up to that billing after he graduated to senior level football but this tough lad is still undeterred and wants to prove his mettle once again.

"Competing in the junior level for my country was one of my best memories in football till now. My club performances have not been good enough due to many major injuries for the last 2-3 years. I am determined to focus on my fitness and play as many matches as possible," said Uttam.

Uttam Rai born in Chumbung, West Sikkim quickly moved up the ladder of junior football after joining Namchi Sports Hostel in 2007. He played in Subroto Cup and in one of the matches playing for Namchi Sports Hostel he scored four goals in 35 minutes. After the impressive performance in the tournament he got a scholarship with Air Force Academy. Uttam played three seasons in Subroto Cup scoring 32 goals. In 2010 he got scholarship to train at the IMG Soccer Academy in Florida, United States along with 14 other players from India Under-16 team. He played in Dallas Cup but got injured. A year later he scored six goals in 4 matches in the AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers, 2012.

In the Under-16 level Uttam scored five goals in a match against Kyrgyzstan in the AFC U-16 Championship qualifiers. Then he moved to the Under-19 India and made three appearances. He is yet to get a senior team call up.

Uttam made his professional debut with Dempo Sports Club, Goa in 2015. Then he played for Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League after which he moved to Minerva Punjab FC on loan then he signed for Mohun Bagan AC. In all these clubs he could not perform to the best of his ability.

Currently he is playing for Churchill Brothers in the I-League and has started a lot of games for them upfront though Churchill sits at the bottom of the table with just one point.

"I have been hearing about Churchill Brothers since I was young so I'm very happy that I'm playing here this season. We didn't start very well in I-League but we are getting better match after match," said Uttam about his experience so far with Churchill Brothers, the only Goa based Club in the I-League this season.

Footballers like Uttam prove what an injury can do to young players but this boy from Sikkim comes across as a strong individual and we should not doubt his ability to once again set Indian Football on fire.