'It was a nice experience and I felt on cloud nine when I scored the goal'
Jeakson Singh Thounaojam became the first Indian to score a goal in FIFA World Cup competition, scoring the hosts’ only goal against Colombia in their 1-2 loss in the Under-17 FIFA World Cup Group A match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Monday.
Jeakson neutralized Colombia's lead by scoring the country's first-ever World Cup goal in the 82nd minute.
India looked well on their way to their first draw in the competition, but a shift in focus allowed Colombia to take the lead a minute later.
Juan Penaloza (83rd minute) scored his second of the night on the counter to leave the home players, as well as the crowd, crestfallen.
But the night clearly belonged to Jeakson.
Jeakson, a defensive midfielder in the 21-member Indian team, hails from Haokha Mamang village in Manipur's Thoubal district. His father Konthoujam Deben Singh suffered a stroke in 2015 and had to leave his job with the Manipur police.
His family is now dependent on the meagre income brought by his mother from selling vegetables at the Khwairamband Bazar in Imphal, 25km from her home.
And now, the young man is making him humble family proud.
"It was a nice experience and I felt on cloud nine when I scored the goal, however we tried our best but were unlucky. It is obviously a great feeling to score for my country in a FIFA World Cup but it would have been sweeter had we won the match. To me in fact it does not even matter as long as we score,” he said after becoming the first player ever to score in a FIFA World Cup.
"We deserved a result, and we tried our very best to get it but in the process we learnt a huge lesson what International Football is all about,” he added.
At six feet and two inches, Jeakson is the tallest outfield player in the India U-17 World Cup team and is the first cousin of India U-17 team captain Amarjit Singh.
Jeakson took his first steps in football with ChandigarhFootballAcademy but was rejected by at the India selection trial back in 2015.
Unwilling to be bogged down by the disappointment, Jeakson then joined Minerva, another Chandigarh-based academy and led the club to the national U-15 and U-16 titles in 2016 and 2017.
Their successes saw Minerva being invited to play friendly matches against the India U-17 team in Goa in March.
And that is when Jeakson was scouted and selected for the India camp and trained in the AIFF Academy before breaking into the Indian squad for the prestigious World Cup.