From football striker to striking sixes, the journey of Shreyas Iyer

Equally good at football and cricket in his younger days, Iyer chose the gentleman’s game on his dad’s advice.

For most of the common folk, having the aptitude and dexterity for a solitary sport seems a daunting task. But for Mumbai’s Ranji captain Shreyas Iyer, the daunting task was choosing between two -- cricket and football -- during his teen years.

Iyer, who was drafted by NaMo Bandra Blasters for the inaugural season of T20 Mumbai League, spent most of the school years on the playground, alternating between cricket and football. While everyone is well versed with his cricketing prowess, the 24-year-old was also a very good forward while playing the beautiful game, with a penchant for play-making from a deeper position during his younger days.

“I love playing as a play-maker from central midfield but to be honest, being a striker is more fun because the more goals you score, the more recognition you get,” he said.

Iyer, who still plays football for leisure sometimes, reveals that he ultimately decided to opt for cricket as a professional career due to the greater popularity of the sport. “When I was growing up, I realised that there was not a lot of scope for football and there were lesser opportunities to be recognised, and make a career,” said the right-hand batsman.

“Even my father, who used to be a cricket player, practised with me at home; and under that guidance, I realised eventually that I will be a better cricket player than a footballer,” Iyer continued.

Still an avid football fan, Iyer loves watching the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Eden Hazard and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but does not align himself as a Lionel Messi fanboy.

“Messi is like the Sachin Tendulkar of football. He is totally gifted and his skill-set is at a different level. So when I see myself in other players, I can’t see Messi in them because players like Ronaldo and (Eden) Hazard seem more similar to me because of their training, their intense dedication and hours of hard work,” he reckoned.

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