Offers rejected because Mohun Bagan is where he wanted to be, says Shilton Paul

KOLKATA: in the world football where players who change clubs is not uncommon, Shilton Paul It has been an exception. The doorman joined Mohun Bagan right after graduating from Tata Football Academy in 2006 and has maintained his loyalty ever since. There have been short loan periods with the Indian Super League teams, but that was when the I-League and ISL did not hold simultaneously.

Except for the unforeseen, Shilton's 14-season journey with green and garnet seems to be at an end. There is little chance that your contract will be renewed.

Barring those brief ISL stints, I've never played for any other team. So, the thought of leaving Bagan hadn’t crossed my mind. Probably the time has now come to move on. I'm speaking to other clubs, ”said Shilton, one of the longest-serving players in Bagan history. “There have been many ups and downs which is natural in such a long journey. The pressure and expectation at a club like Mohun Bagan is always high. Even if your form dips a bit, questions are raised if you are retained next season. It’s a huge fight. Overall, it has been nice and I’m satisfied. ”

In the middle it has many offers, including Eastern bengal , but always decided to stay faithful.

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“I’ve had many offers. After becoming the best goalkeeper in 2017-18, I had good offers from ISL clubs and Eastern bengal . But, I wanted to speak to Mohun Bagan before taking any decision and eventually signed for them. I respect Eastern bengal but Mohun Bagan is where I wanted to be,” he said. “Even today it’s difficult for me to conceive that I’ll have to wear a different jersey. This club will remain special. But, we are professionals and I’ll fit in wherever I play.”

It’s never easy to start a professional career at a club like Mohun Bagan and it was no different for Shilton. “When I graduated from TFA, I had offers from Mohun Bagan , Eastern bengal and Salgaocar FC. My father (Mohan Paul) and coach Monotosh Roy convinced me to play at Bagan,” he said. “When I joined, Sangram Mukherjee, Subrata Paul, Imran Khan and I were the goalkeepers. It was difficult as I didn’t get much chance to play and I used to cry. I even contemplated leaving mid-season to get more game time. We had a few change of coaches and finally when Chima Okorie arrived, he made me play in AFC Cup matches and a few national league games.”

Then the effort to settle began. “The following season, Sangram and I were the main goalkeepers. We both had a chance to play that season before I got hurt in the end. But I did well and signed for two more seasons. It's been a roller coaster ride ever since. I had many good seasons but I remember Stanly Rozario's and also 2017-18 ”.

You have no doubts about the most precious moment. “Winning the I-League (2014-15) under my captaincy is a moment of pride. It's a great feeling, especially since it came after a long gap, Shilton said.

Personally, his most painful season has just ended.

This was the first time that I couldn't play a single I-League match. I was supposed to play TRAU, but that was the day I was going to get married. I felt it would be a pressure to play a game and then get married. I retired and the team played so well after that, there was no chance. I am happy for the team but personally I am very sad.