Minerva and not ISL for history maker Jeakson Singh
Jeakson Singh (Image credit-Minerva Punjab FC)
Mohali: Deemed ‘too tall and slow’ by former coaches, it was indeed a tall Jeakson Singh who scored India’s first and only goal in a FIFA World Cup, rising high above all to head in a ball that will forever be remembered in the Indian football folklore.
He has now become one of the most sought after U-17 footballer but while top names in Indian football play in the Indian Super League, Jeakson chose Minerva Punjab over the ISL and why not – it was here that the then 16-year-old lad rejected at the CFA U-17 trials, found solace and the rest is history as they say.
“I play for Minerva and am not bothered about ISL offers. Game playing time is more important for me and only Minerva FC can assure me that and not any ISL team. I have a aim to first cement my place in the national team through good performances for Minerva in the I-League and then if a good offer comes maybe I will give it a thought,” said Jeakson who with his famous goal etched India’s name forever into world football.
Overlooked by Nicolai Adam for the U-17 national team, Jeakson who has time and again delivered for his side knew his time will come. Known as a fighter in northern Punjab, the boy from Manipur, was made the captain of the Minerva U-15 and U-16 team and he delivered, leading the teams to two back-to-back titles in two seasons.
“I won the U-15 and U-16 Youth Leagues after coming to Minerva, which made the national selectors take a notice. The team owners also send me to Chennai City to play in the Durand Cup. Time in the academy has given me more experience and helped me develop as a player,” added Jeakson.
Such has been his tenacity that although not selected for the U-17 World Cup bound team, he didn’t give up and continued sweating hard even after the practise sessions. “He is the kind that works harder and pushes himself further,” Bajaj had said earlier and Jeakson got his chance when Luis Norton de Matos became the coach of the U-17 team.
Impressed with the performances of the victorious Minerva U-16 team in the Youth Leagues, Matos invited them for a match against the Indian U-17 team.
Jeakson says, “Chances were hard to come by early but I have always been ready to pounce on a single chance. Winning the U-15 and U-16 Championships helped my cause. When the U-17 national team came to play against the Minerva U-16 team, I had a believe that a good performance here can earn me a national call up and gave in my best. I performed well and won the MoM and the next morning I was told that I had been selected for the national U-17 team.”
He has become a household name now but ironically, Jeakson himself doesn’t love how his name is spelt. But does that really matter – he is a hero today and a star with a lot of promise in the future.
Everyone gets a second chance and Jeakson got his at Minerva. But this is not the end for him and knowing every bit of his dream, he concludes, “I want to play for the Indian national team, that is my dream.”