Image Credits: Fistosports
Astle G Thomas, a second-year B.Com student from Nirmala College, Muvattupuzha, Kerala may not be a popular name in Indian football scene yet, but he definitely has achievements worth a mention.
Astle had a promising start to his professional career when he played for Ernakulam District in State Championship in 2015-16, Kottayam District the following year. He’s played a vital role in helping Nirmala College to win the 2019 Reliance National Championship title beating Thakur College on penalties in final. Currently plying his trade in Kerala Premier League, playing for RFC Kochi, Astle also played Junior I-League and Kerala Premier League. Both the tournament helped him to gain more experience and knowledge about football.
The Kerala striker is an intriguing talent. He says that his strength is being a hold-up striker, willing to stretch the defence and include others in the attack while looking to poach goals in the penalty area. But Astle is not entirely that. He is fast and loves bursting into the channels to get on the ball and charge at defenders. Like most promising young footballers, he has big dreams. The 19-year-old admitted that his ultimate dream is to play in Europe, particularly his beloved club Chelsea FC but doubts if it could become a reality. But he is ready and raring to give it a try.
How did your journey with football started?
I started playing football at the age of 12. I was inspired by watching Frank Lampard at Chelsea FC. So I started dreaming to become a professional footballer.
How supportive was the atmosphere (Parents, friends, school and college) around you with your footballing career?
My parents, they were the main strength I had while beginning football career. They bought all the equipment and necessary gears for me. My coaches, friends, school and college management also supported me well. They were extra power for me.
Now, you’re studying the second year in Nirmala College, tell us a little bit about your team this year and its expectations? Is there any important tournament that you guys training so hard to win?
Our team is like a family. We don't have outstanding players. But our team spirit and support to each other made us stronger. Our team was aiming mainly for the intercollegiate tournament. But we didn't had luck, we came runners of the tournament. Our second target was Reliance National Championship, and our hard work paid off. We are the champions of the tournament.
Any player you look up to? Why?
Sachin T Sivan was one player who was performing outstandingly in last two years in the college. This year also we are looking forward to his top performance.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years considering the Indian football scene?
India have developed way far better. Each and every player is having better facilities and training. Football is a game of evolving and I have to improve myself a lot in the coming days and probably see myself playing in nation's top league and earn a chance to play in the Nationals and gain a great education.
Did you have to face any obstacles in your footballing career?
To be honest, I haven't faced any major problems like injury, lack of training etc. I thank god for supporting me in each and every second.
Your team has won multiple titles last year, particularly the Reliance Nationals finals recently in which you won on the penalties against Thakur college. Your team were cruising past all the opponents by a big margin in the tournament but the final was a thriller. How exciting the team was after the win and how did your team celebrate after that?
Oh! It was a great tournament for us. We all had our chances to show our best. We all enjoyed the tournament, especially the final. It was a thriller. We had God's grace which helped us to win the penalties. We had a great welcome in our town. Our college management and student union were very happy and gave us the best welcome. And in our college, we were honoured.
Which college is your biggest rival team and do you have any memorable moment against them? If yes, explain.
Most of the teams are our rivals. Because with an average team we are able to win against big teams. So all are very much against us.
Tell us about your coach, practice session and his playing style. Has your coach has ever asked your team to adapt/play like a particular team’s style?
Our coaches Anwar Sir and Santhosh sir, they are the backbone of our team. Without them, we are zero. We have practices from Monday to Friday. We do two sessions daily. Morning 6:30 - 8:30 and evening 4:30 - 6:30. We are playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation. This is our main formation. Our strength is wing attack.
Since you’re a forward, what type of goal you often score and what’s the best goal you have scored and against whom?
Being a single striker I used to score a tap in goals. The best goal I scored was against M. A college, Kothamangalam which is a long-ranger from outside the box.
When would we get to see you play in the I-League or ISL?
I don't know. Whenever I get a chance to play I will utilize maximum out of it.
What’s the ultimate goal that you want to achieve in the coming years?
It's been my dream to play in Europe and also to represent my country at senior level. It will also be nice to play in one of the leagues in India. I hope I will achieve it one day. And finally, when pressed about his ambition to play in a "top club", Astle said: "Chelsea FC would be nice."
What’s the one thing you would do even by skipping a practice session? Going for class or studying for exams.
Best footballer of all time? Lionel Messi
Your favorite club (Europe and India) Europe – Chelsea Football Club India – Kerala Blasters
If your team has choose one player that too – a striker from Europe this season? Who would you choose? Sergio Aguero
Which team has the realistic chance of winning the Hero ISL and Hero I-League title this season? Bengaluru FC and Churchill Brothers FC Goa
Pele vs. Diego Maradona / Messi v.Cristiano Ronaldo / Neymar v Eden Hazard –if you compare them all at their peak time, who would you choose? Mardona, C. Ronaldo, Eden Hazard