Indian footballer Jewel Raja Shaikh regrets signing for FC Pune City over Mohun Bagan in 2017 and accused Serbian manager Ranko Popovic of ending his career prematurely. The midfielder now plays for South United, a Bengaluru based football club which plies its trade in the second division I-League.
Even though he started his club career with Dempo, Jewel Raja Shaikh gained prominence during his stay with Mohun Bagan from 2011-2013. It was following his stint with the Mariners that he went back to Dempo and played as a regular before he was inducted into the FC Goa setup in the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League. Having also made his International debut in 2011, Jewel was destined for bigger achievements, but his career took an abrupt dip at the age of 27.
Jewel Raja was offered a contract by FC Pune City prior to the 2017-18 ISL, simultaneously from I-League outfits Mohun Bagan, but he preferred the former destination. The playmaker was sidelined after suffering a groin injury in the opening match of the season, following which he was never really used regularly and faded away from the scene thereafter. Raja mainly accused FC Pune City’s then-coach Ranko Popovic of a premature end to his career.
“I had picked up a groin injury in the very first match of the season against Delhi Dynamos but it wasn’t serious. The injury happened during warm-up. I came back after 20 days and had even played a match against FC Goa,” said Sheikh Jewel Raja, as reported by Goal.com.
“The coach had problems with me after I got injured. He had asked me to continue with upper body exercises after the injury but the team doctor advised me to take rest for the next couple of days. I decided to follow the doctor’s advice and took complete rest. The coach came to know that I did not follow his instructions and that I guess hurt his ego. He told me that I was not a disciplined person and hence, he never gave me a proper chance,” added the footballer.
The Kolkata-based footballer regrets not joining Mohun Bagan during that time, which could have saved his career. For the time being, the 30-year old plays for South United, a club based in Bengaluru, which plays in the second division I-League.
“I regret not joining Mohun Bagan in 2017. They had offered me as then-coach Sanjay Sen had wanted me at the club. But I decided to go to Pune. I regret it. Actually the reason I went to Pune City is coach Habas. When Pune approached me, he was still in charge and had recommended my name. Habas was also present during the ISL 2017 draft. But after I signed their contract I came to know that he had left due to some problem and Popovic joined,” concluded Raja.