New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) It was in 2012 against Azerbaijan that Adil Khan made his senior India debut, but after a spate of injuries, his hopes of returning to the national team appeared bleak.
However, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the 32-year-old made an inspiring comeback to the Indian football team in 2019, the foundation for which was laid in the Second Division League, where he played for Lonestar Kashmir in 2016.
“Playing in the second division was one of the best decisions I have ever taken in my career. I was playing regularly and getting game time under my belt. It helped me immensely to regain my confidence and then I came back to Goa to play for Dempo and then got the call to play in the I-League with Churchill Brothers,” Adil recalled in a chat with AIFF TV.
“Things went step-by-step in a proper way. Playing football is something I love to do and I could never give up on it. Maybe it was my destiny or a result of hard work – I don’t know,” he added.
The defender revealed that despite his critical injury, he was ‘hopeful’ of coming back to the national team fold.
“I didn’t lose my hopes of playing in the national team. I knew if I had a few good seasons in the domestic circuit, I will get the opportunity to perform in the national team. I want to convey my thanks to Salgaocar, which allowed me to train for one month and helped me regain my confidence. Then I realised that I still have a lot of football left in me and I wanted to explore and go step-by-step,” Adil said.
After continuous impressive performances for his club, he finally made his way back into the senior national team under head coach Igor Stimac at the King’s Cup 2019 in Thailand, where he featured in a 1-0 win over the hosts – providing the assist for the winning goal and producing a supreme defensive performance, keeping the clean sheet intact.
“I never thought I will make a comeback to the national team after so many years. It certainly ranks as one of the best moments of my career. Sometimes, I get emotional just thinking about the whole journey,” he said.
Adil’s journey has been nothing short of inspirational and he stated that being able to inspire the younger generation is one of his ‘greatest achievements’.
“I am happy that so many young players are inspired by me and that is one of my greatest achievements. I have not won anything yet in terms of trophies or awards, and I am looking forward to doing so. It’s great to see people’s comments and messages. I would like to thank everyone for their support,” he said.