22. Arup Debnath

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Pune FC signed Arup Debnath just ahead of the 2013-14 season as he joined to give Shahinlal Meloly and Amrinder Singh some healthy competition between the sticks.

Even though he was on Pune FC’s wishlist ahead of the 2009-10 season, the move met some roadblocks then and couldn’t materialise. This time around though, there were no hiccups as both sides quickly finalised the deal and he zealously joined the Red Lizards.

Plying trade in the Indian circuit for a while now, Arup has the unique distinction of being an ‘experienced youngster’. Since he is only 26 years of age, his best years still lay ahead of him but he already has a wealth of experience having spent 7 seasons in the I League and the second division.

Graduating from Steel Authority of India (SAIL), Bokaro, Arup, as a 19-year-old began his professional career signing for East Bengal in the 2006-07. He, thereafter, spent another season in Kolkata but had limited playing time and opportunities owing to the experienced likes of Naseem Akhtar, Abhra Mondal, and Subrata Paul. He then moved to Mumbai, signing for Air-India for the 2008-09 season.

In Mumbai, as a first-choice keeper, Arup helped Air-India avoid the drop with a string of performances that helped establish himself as a high-rated shot-stopper in the I-League. Following this breakthrough season, Arup rejoined East Bengal for the 2009-10 season. However, like his previous stint, Arup had limited opportunities.

In 2010-11, Arup returned to Air-India where he had a great start to the season playing the first seven games. However, Arup suffered a serious injury incidentally in a match against Pune FC at the turn of the year. Falling awkwardly in a collision with former Pune FC striker Keita Mandjou, saw him suffer a serious hand injury. The subsequent operation and treatment saw Arup miss the remaining season and some more of the next.

Post a long period of rehabilitation; Arup joined Kenkre FC ahead of the I-League 2nd Division qualifiers stage during the 2011-12 as he looked to re-establish himself, which turned out successful. Thereafter, Arup joined Mumbai Tigers FC in the 2012-13 season. He cemented his position in the goal during the Durand Cup campaign where Mumbai Tigers finished runners-up and throughout their I-League 2 campaign.


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