Subrata Pal assures that there are no sweaty palms as the India goalkeeper prepares for his maiden stint abroad.. He tries to sound convincing, yet, it’s easy to sense the jitters Pal is feeling as he takes a plunge into the unknown. Quite literally.
The 27-year-old shot-stopper had never heard of FC Vestsjaelland before penning a six-month deal with the club late last year. He has brushed up his knowledge about the Danish Superliga team ever since but still is largely clueless about what to expect there.
There has been no conversation with the coach or his teammates. “I guess that will happen on the training ground once I reach there on Monday,” he said before leaving for Slagelse in east Denmark on Sunday night. “In a way, that’s a good thing because I am going there with an open mind.”
Pal is only the third Indian to ply his trade in Europe after strikers Baichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri. Bhutia played for Bury FC from 1999 to 2002 whereas India captain Chhetri was signed by Sporting Lisbon ‘B’ for a season in 2012. In comparison, Pal’s deal with Vestsjaelland, also known as FC Vikings, is rather low-profile – both in terms of duration as well as opportunity.
Pal is the costliest goalkeeper in India at the moment, with his previous club United SC reportedly paying Rs 1.25 crore for his services. His market value sky-rocketed after the Asian Cup in 2011, where he was dubbed as ‘Spiderman Subrata’ by South Korean media after an excellent performance against them.
However, there have been indications already of this being more of a marketing gimmick by the club. Pal’s deal with Vestsjaelland has been facilitated by his sponsors Red Bull, the Indian co-owners of the club Anglian Holdings and IMG-Reliance, to whom he is contracted.