By Soumo Ghosh,
AIFF Media Team

KOLKATA: Back-to-back hat-tricks are a rarity in Football. TRAU FC’s Bidyashagar Singh became the first Indian footballer to achieve this feat when he came up with hat-tricks in consecutive matches of the Hero I-League — first against Mohammedan Sporting and then in the next match against Real Kashmir FC.

The 22-year-old has been on red hot form of late, and seems to have sprung into form since the start of Phase 2 of the Hero I-League 2020-21 season, netting hat-tricks against Mohammedan Sporting, followed by another one against Real Kashmir – both hat-tricks coming within the space of five days.

The ever-humble Bidyashagar chose to dedicate his new feat to his family, and a rather special childhood coach – former Indian Women’s Team forward Prameshwori Devi.

“I would like to dedicate this record to my family, and to Prameshwori Devi, who was my first coach back in my childhood days,” Bidyashagar said to “She herself was playing for the Indian Women’s Team back in those days, and she is an absolute inspiration for me.”

Not only has Bidyashagar climbed up to the top of the scorer’s charts with 11 goals in the Hero I-League, by virtue of these hat-tricks, but he has also managed to get his name into a few more record books. Apart from being the first Indian to score consecutive hat-tricks, he also became the second Indian to score two hat-tricks in a season – the only other Indian to manage this feat in the Hero I-League was Jeje Lalpekhlua for the Pailan Arrows, back in the 2010-11 season.

“I had absolutely no idea that I had made any kind of record. To be honest, these kind of things are never on your mind when you go out to play a match. But it was a very pleasant surprise for me, when I got to know that I am the only Indian to score two hat-tricks in two matches in the Hero I-League. It is an absolute honour for me, and I feel blessed to be playing for this team,” stated Bidyashagar.

Individual records aside, however, Bidyashagar is more intent on getting his team’s title aspirations up and running once again. With TRAU picking up six points from their first two matches of Phase 2, and Churchill brothers suffering their first defeat of the season at the hands of Gokulam Kerala on Wednesday, the Manipuri side is now just three points adrift off the top of the Hero I-League table.

“I am very happy to have scored these two hat-tricks. It’s an amazing feeling, I just can’t describe it in words. But what is also important is that our team was able to get six points against two very strong teams that are considered to be genuine title contenders,” said Bidyashagar.

“We were down in sixth place before Phase 2 started, and now we are just 3 points from the top side. As a team, we feel great to be challenging for the title once again,” he continued.

While he now sits pretty on top of the scorer’s charts, Bidyashagar attributes his goals to the trust that is shown in him by his teammates and by the TRAU coaches.

“I would like to thank my teammates very much. I have scored 11 goals this season, but it is due to all the 11 players that are on the pitch, that I am able to do so. They have shown that trust in me, and pass me the ball in positions from where I can score, and that trust is what has helped me grow over the course of this season,” he stated.

“There is no on or off switch for performance on the pitch. It is an ongoing process. Yes, I scored two hat-tricks in the last two matches, but that is the result of the hard work and guidance that I have received from the coach over the last few months,” quipped the 22-year-old. “Yes, I make mistakes, but he always guides us and helps us overcome our errors. What you saw in the last two matches is just a result of those long months of hard work and guidance.”

The young attacker, however, chose to keep a low profile, stating that he prefers not to dwell much on records of the past, and rather looks forward to the upcoming matches with a fresh dose of motivation.

“For me, every game is a new challenge, and once a game is over, I just recharge my mind and think only of the next game. But I do love scoring goals. The hunger to score more keeps driving me on,” said the TRAU attacker. “The only thing that I think about before going into every match is that I should give my best. The performance may often differ, but going in with that mentality helps bring out the best on a consistent basis.”