Former Kerala Blasters FC and Jamshedpur FC player Mehtab Hossain have announced his retirement from professional football.
Currently playing for Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan in the Hero I-League, the veteran midfielder revealed his decision on the eve of the team’s final home fixture against Indian Arrows on Thursday. The match will be the last of Mehtab’s 18-year-long illustrious career as a footballer.
The 33-year-old was a part of the Kerala Blasters side in the inaugural season of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) back in 2014 and helped his team reach the final. In fact, he was the first Indian player to have been signed by Kerala in the inaugural domestic draft. The defensive midfielder was an integral part of the Kerala team for the next two seasons and helped the South Indian side reach the grand finale yet again in 2016.
In the 2017-18 season, Mehtab was roped in by Jamshedpur FC to help them in their first-ever campaign in the Hero ISL. The midfield general impressed yet again as Jamshedpur narrowly missed out on a semi-final spot and finished fifth. Mehtab made 50 Hero ISL appearances in his Hero ISL career (38 for Kerala and 12 for Jamshedpur) and notched up some very impressive stats, which includes 147 tackles, 73 interceptions and 59 clearances. However, his biggest strength was his leadership quality and the relentless commitment he brought with himself every time he walked onto the pitch.
Mehtab made his debut for the India national team back in 2005 and went on to play 30 matches for the Blue Tigers before retiring from international football in 2015. The defensive midfielder also has two international goals to his name.
“I started my journey in 1998 with Kalighat Sports Club. On Thursday, it will be the last match of my career. It has been a long journey. Maybe tomorrow will be the last professional match of my career. I want to quit after playing tomorrow’s game as it is a home game. I wanted to play my last match in Kolkata. I had informed after Calcutta Football League (CFL) that I will retire but continued due to some reasons. This is the correct time to quit,” he reportedly said ahead of the match against Indian Arrows.
“Whatever popularity and fame I have received, it is because of my fans. I thank my coaches and officials for giving me the opportunity. I would also like to thank all my friends from the media fraternity as well. I thank all the football fans of Bengal those who have stayed beside me through thick and thin,” he added.