Shubham Sarangi turned heads with his strong performances at right-back for new Indian Super League side Odisha FC but the young 20-year-old midfielder credits his performances last season to the now-departed head coach Josep Gombau.
“At the end of the 2018-19 season, my coach told me, ‘I think you will be a very good full-back.’ To which I replied, ‘Coach you will have to guide me.’ Then, when we went for pre-season, I played every game and looked to keep learning something about the full-back position from every game. And when the season started, the management and coach’s backing helped me do well at full-back… I want to say a huge thank you to Josep Gombau for helping me transform into a full-back from a midfielder so well,” Sarangi said while in conversation with Anant Tyagi on the ISL’s official website.
Shubham Sarangi on his versatility
Having begun his career as a striker, the defender seemed very comfortable playing on the right flank of Odisha’s defence. Speaking on the transition, he said, “I used to play as a striker in the U-13 and U-14s. Then I moved to midfielder and now I am a right-back. I feel at this age playing in different positions gives me a lot of qualities. If you are playing as a right-back, you need to have different qualities compared to a centre-back or any other player. So, at this age, I gain a lot from playing in different positions. “
The player from Vishakapatnam was one of the first names on the team sheet for his Spanish head-coach and was part of India’s youth ranks from a very young age. “When I was 11 or 12, there was this trial for the Delhi state team. My school team football coach encouraged me to go for the trials and luckily, I got selected. Then we went to Kalyani and I was just having fun, not aware that there were scouts at the event. There were 22 of us who were chosen to play for the U-13 AFC qualifiers and that’s how my journey started.”
Shubham was a part of many a youth teams over the short duration of his career and was even included in the initial squad for the U-17 World Cup in 2017. However, much to his disappointment, he was omitted from the final squad. “I still remember the day that the team was announced. There were 26 players out of which 21 got selected and I didn’t make the cut. I was very disappointed, but I came back to the room and prayed to God. Since that day, I decided to work hard every day. So, the fact that I didn’t get to be a part of the U-17 World Cup squad motivated me and made me a better person.”
Shubham Sarangi on joining the Delhi Dynamos
His hard work paid off and he eventually joined the erstwhile Delhi Dynamos side before the 2018-19 season. Appearances were limited in the first season, but the young defender worked hard nonetheless. He put this down to a shuffling of his positions before settling in the defence. “I didn’t get much game time in my first season. Back then, I was playing as a defensive and attacking midfielder. I remember one game against Bengaluru when I played as a striker as well. I learned a lot during that season."
He also lauded Marcos Tebar for his development as a defender, “I could visualise and see a lot of things that I could improve on and players like Marcos Tebar were very helpful. He always used to tell me after training that even if you don’t get chances, you can still keep improving. And when you have a good environment around, you tend to improve. My parents and the entire management were behind me and I wanted to do well.”
Over the last two seasons, Shubham Sarangi, who turned 20 yesterday, has made 26 appearances for Delhi Dynamos and then Odisha FC. During this time, he has made 105 clearances, 98 tackles, 32 blocks and 31 interceptions, in addition to the one assist last season.
Feature image courtesy: Facebook / @ShubhamSarangiOfficial