Updated: Jan 22
Panaji, Jan 21: SC East Bengal goalkeeper Debjit Majumder has 41 saves in 12 appearances to his name and tops the leaderboard for most saves made so far in Hero ISL-7. It's there for everyone to see.
What one cannot see is the work that goes on behind the scenes – the gruelling training sessions where sweat and discipline are bartered for a leap towards perfection.
Majumder experienced a meteoric rise on the Indian football circuit between 2014 and 2016, winning the Hero I-League, the Hero Federation Cup and the Hero ISL titles once each during that period. He also won the Best Goalkeeper award in the 2016-17 Hero I-League, and was well in contention for a national call-up.
However, the last couple of years have been mixed for him as he spent most of his time on the bench for Mohun Bagan in the 2019-20 season, even though he was part of their Hero I-League winning squad.
What has worked wonders for the 32-year old shot-stopper during his second stint with the red-and-gold brigade is the constant guidance of SCEB Goalkeeping Coach and Blackburn Rovers great Bobby Mimms, who previously worked with him at ATK in the 2018-19 season.
For Mimms, who won the English Premier League with Blackburn in 1995, the road to success demands painstaking effort in training each day and the zeal to become a better version of yourself - by enhancing your strengths and working on the weaknesses.
In this conversation with sceastbengal.co, Mimms shares his thoughts about Majumder's resurgence, the mental aspect associated with goalkeeping, and the work ethics for a keeper who is not blessed with height. Excerpts:-
Q: Debjit has been in the form of his life. What according to you is working for him?
He has worked really hard in every training session and tried to make the best of what he has got. When he came to this club at the start of the season, he was competing with other goalkeepers for a first-team spot. He made his mark in the friendly game that we had (against Kerala Blasters FC), and has continued that form since.
Q: If you could shed some light on his attitude in training and overall game?
It's just about doing the basics right. I've known Debjit from my time at ATK, so I knew a fair bit about him as regards what type of things he needed to work on. We did similar things at ATK, which, I think, benefited him a lot. Arindam (Bhattacharja) was in very good form for that club at that time, so Debjit didn't get enough chances in the league. Hence, I was aware of what he could do. We try to focus on the basics every day, practice plenty of handling drills, and work on his strong point, which is his agility.
Q: How much of it is mental for a goalkeeper especially with Debjit who joined SC East Bengal after spending more time on the bench at Mohun Bagan last season?
It's a mental game anyway. As a goalkeeper, if you're making saves and contributing to the team's performances, you feel better about yourself. Debjit has certainly been doing that this season. He is going into each game with confidence, so that helps the mental aspect of his game. The more games he plays, the more confident he'll become.
Q: For a keeper who is not blessed with height, do you, as his coach, need to work on more aspects to cover that up?
If you're 5'10, you're going to do stuff differently as compared to someone who is 6'3. So basically he needs to deal with things that are in his control and realise that he's not going to come for crosses on the edge of the box because that's not his strength. He would rather make saves around his line. Moreover, as the back four play with him more, they'll realise what his strengths are. We try to play together as a defensive unit.
Q: Finally, are you hopeful of him finishing on top of the charts end of the season followed by an India call-up?
Well, if he keeps going the way he has been going, he'll certainly end at the top of the charts. His performances have been really good, and if the performances are good, people start taking notice. He has to make sure that his performance is good for the club, and if he's able to ensure that, it will take him where he should be.