Calcutta: For seven seasons, Mehtab Hussain has been an integral part of East Bengal.
In the seven-year period, East Bengal emerged Federation Cup champions on as many as four occasions and have been winning the Calcutta Football League title since the 2010-11 season. Besides, there’s an IFA Shield triumph as well back in early 2012.
You just cannot complain if a player shows nine major trophies beside his name in red-and-gold colours.
So far, Mehtab has won nine trophies since donning the red-and-gold jersey. But the fact that he’s yet to be a part of an I-League-winning squad takes some sheen off his CV. And Mehtab, too, agrees with it.
Bengaluru FC’s 4-2 win over Dempo SC in Margao, on Monday, confirmed them as winners of this I-League, dashing East Bengal’s hopes.
“Yes, East Bengal have won several trophies ever since I joined this club… Federation Cup, CFL, IFA Shield… We’ve had it all. But the pain in not being able to win the I-League remains,” Mehtab said on Monday.
“For the last four seasons, we came perilously close to winning the coveted trophy. During each of these years, we were in a pretty good position to emerge champions. But we kept faltering during crucial junctures…
“I really feel bad for our coach (Armando Colaco) who really tried his best, having taken up the job at a difficult scenario,” Mehtab lamented.
The medio pointed out three specific matches during the league in which East Bengal goofed up and which eventually made the job easier for debutants Bengaluru FC.
“If you ask me, I will say that the results of three particular matches were the main reasons behind our undoing. The return-leg game versus Mohun Bagan and the home matches versus Lajong FC and Mumbai FC… We couldn’t win all three of them despite being in favourable positions.
“These results killed our prospects to a huge extent,” he pointed out.
However, the disappointment of this season seems to be making Mehtab, who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury, more determined for a better show in the next.
“I feel very bad for not being able to give the best of my services to a club that has been looking after me for so many years. Nonetheless, I’m confident I’ll come out stronger and better next season.
“Yes, I still have a year’s contract with East Bengal. I’m not looking anywhere beyond East Bengal at the moment,” he made it clear.