In real life S. Rajesh is the antithesis of what he is on the football field. Shy and introverted, it is hard to believe he is the same person who has been harrying defenders with his pace and aggression in the ongoing Santosh Trophy football championship.
Rajesh struck a purple patch in the tournament and scored seven goals from four matches which included a hat-trick against Himachal Pradesh. He scored in all the cluster matches and was instrumental in Karnataka qualifying for the quarterfinal league from Cluster B.
Thankful to coach
Rajesh, who hails from Thiruvananthapuram, is thankful to Karnataka coach J. Thomas for showing faith in him. “I am thankful to Thomas sir for fielding me in the playing XI. I was in the Santosh Trophy squad last year but played only two matches as substitute. This year at the camp I scored in the practice matches and he was impressed. He told me I would be playing in the tournament,” the striker said.
Rajesh, who plays for BEML in Bangalore, has struck a partnership with fellow striker V. Stephen. The two have been tormenting the teams in the tournament and has scored the majority of the 20 goals Karnataka has netted so far.
“We complement each other and there is also a healthy rivalry to score. But we are not selfish as we always keep our team’s interests in mind,” Rajesh said.
Rajesh, who learnt football at the panchayat stadium in Pozhiyoor, made his mark in the Thiruvananthapuram District Football League while playing for UKFC and SMRC. He also practised a few
The striker was disappointed when he was not selected to the KSEB football team despite doing well in the trials. “I scored three goals and was confident of getting selection. But I was overlooked,” he said.
His coach at SMRC, Cleofas Alex, told him to attend the BEML trials in Bangalore. “There were four of us from SMRC. But I was the only one who got selected,” said Rajesh.
“To participate in the Santosh Trophy was my dream when I started my career. I was happy when I was selected to play for Karnataka last year. Ideally I would have liked to play for Kerala.
“But I am happy that I was able to score goals in front of my home crowd,” said Rajesh who hopes to play for Kerala in future.
A sterner test awaits Rajesh in the quarterfinal league where he will be pitted against experienced defenders. But Rajesh is confident that he will be able to continue his good form.
Rajesh scored in all the cluster matches He learnt football at the panchayat stadium in Pozhiyoor The striker was disappointed when he was not selected to the KSEB team
Rajesh scored in all the cluster matches
He learnt football at the panchayat stadium in Pozhiyoor
The striker was disappointed when he was not selected to the KSEB team