C K Vineeth, the lean, tall guy from Kannur, flaunts a charisma of simplicity around him. With Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru FC, he celebrated a memorable season last year. Winning many a hearts, Vineeth is approaching another season with high hopes. The ace shooter of the Yellow Army speaks to mathrbhumi.com about his emergence as a professional, his past, his trainers, teammates and coaches.

Q. In a short span too many things happened in your career. How do you recall your journey from the SAI camp to the national colours?

My tryst with football started with my schooling at Navodaya in Kannur. Till Class V, I was enrolled at the school where my father taught. Then I joined Navodaya at Kannur and continued with usual practice. After getting selected to the SAI camp, I joined Kasargod Navodaya for Plus One, where I met my first coach Velayudhan and there began my career. Further, I moved to SN College and got trained under Bharathan for 5 years. Meanwhile, I got opportunities to play in clubs like Chennai Customs and KSEB. It was the phase when I started turning to be a professional. The transition completed by the time I was doing my post-graduation. Then I joined VIVA Kerala. I had a good season with them and got selected in Prayag United squad and further to Bengaluru FC and national team. The journey has reached Kerala Blaster’s camp.

Q. About being called the hero of ISL 2016?

I don’t know. I was with them the first season. But things didn’t turn out in our favour. We failed to make results. This was my second season and I joined the squad after the AFC Cup. Everybody pinned high hopes on us. As I could score goals, some may call me a hero. But I would like to say that we failed to satisfy our fans wholly. They wanted us to lift the trophy and I am sorry that we couldn’t bring them what they desired.

Q. The feeling of getting associated with a legend like Sachin and his tweet mentioning your name?

I’m really contented that a person of his stature mentioned and praised me. But once you get closely associated with Sachin, your perception about him will change. For us, he is the greatest sporting icon of the country or a legend, but he loves to keep it simple. Being a person who keeps striking straightforward conversations; his tweet mentioning my name seemed so genuine.

Q. Usually, you celebrate your goals silently. But what was behind that throat slash gesture?

It was not my way of celebration and the idea belongs to Belfort. I asked him during the post lunch session about the gesture. The goal arrived at the dying minutes of the second half. He just meant that the game is over. Ironically, a few send me messages saying that I did so because I hail from Kannur. It was just his way of celebration and I joined him.

Q. The association with trainers from Velayudhan to Coppel?

I got ample time under each trainer. This was the first time I played directly under someone after joining the team (Koppel). With each team, there will be proper pre-season training and you will get enough time to get accustomed with the trainer and his methods. Since I was able to score goal in the first match, the relationship with Koppel turned a smooth one and I got adapted to his techniques.

Q. As a coach, how Westwood has influenced you?

It was Ashley Westwood, the head coach of Bengaluru FC, brought in some changes in my game – he made a striker or the first time. Now my position is striker in Bengaluru. Outside ground, he is a friendly guy. While on ground, he knew how to utilise each player tactfully and he is a master of this art.

Q. Your favourite position -- winger or striker?

From a very young age, I started playing as a striker. Then I shifted to midfield and later played at almost all positions. After playing a striker in Bengaluru, now I feel it is my comfortable position. But I am happy to change roles as per the team’s requirement.

Q. Call to national team and father’s hospitalisation were almost simultaneous. How did you handle the situation?

The accident happened a few days before my call up to national team. The construction of my house was going on and my father T Vasu fell down from the terrace. I was in Kolkata with my team. On being informed, I returned home immediately. He was in bed and I never felt like leaving him. I called my team officials and told them that I’m not coming back. They just told me to take some more time to arrive at a decision. Now stay with your father. Don’t be emotion driven, they advised. I almost decided to stay back at home. After two days I got a call from Delhi telling that I have been picked up for the national team camp. Then I told my father that I’m not going back. He was so angry that he would have beaten me up if he could. He asked me to leave for Delhi the day itself.

Q. The influence of father?

He always cared for my interests and asked me to chase my dreams. If its football or anything else, you can pursue your aspirations. I will help as much as I can, he would say. Most often parents set the goals for their wards. My father was a rarity. When I asked for a football or anything, he bought it. He never tried to impose anything on me.

Q. Your passion for photography?

I travelled a lot during my childhood days for the regional meets as a member of Navodaya team. With my family I regularly went for pilgrimage trips from temples every year. Tours become a part and so do photos. It started with mini cameras. The passion grew along with me. I tried to attend camps conducted by acknowledged photographers. Till now, it didn’t materialise.

Q. The frustrating moment in your career?

It was during my first match at I-League. The venue was my home ground in Kannur where I learned my basics. I was included in the first XI. However, after 10 minutes I was substituted. The coach might have his own reasons. I’m not yet convinced. It was too discouraging and I still feel the pain of getting replaced before my home crowd so immediately.

Q. The association with senior players?

In the growing stage, each one aspires to play along with those above their level. I too had the same wish as I believe that the strategy could improve our game. While studying in Class VII at Navodaya, I wished to play alongside the Plus Two students, who were quality players. I knew they would reject my request. Even then, I used to make a try. Now, it has become easier for me to mingle with players at different levels. Fortunately, my seniors were always encouraging and appreciating.

Q. You were recently spotted at a shooting location?

The visit to the sets of Honeybee-II was quite accidental. I had earlier visited Mammootty on the sets of Puthan Panam. In the meanwhile, director Lal called me and invited me to the location of Honeybee-II. He told me that they had given a break to shooting on the ISL final day. I was accorded a rousing reception. The crew were filming song sequence and they asked me join them and shake a leg. For me, it was a cherishing experience as the stars from the reel world patted me and danced along with me. It was so much fun.

Q. Are you a Mammookka fan?

Yes, I’m a Mammookka fan. But it doesn’t stop me from following Mohanlal. I love both of them and used to watch all of their movies but have a little extra affection towards Mammookka.

Q. If not a footballer?

A photographer or a travel enthusiast who loves photography. While away from football pitch, I love to spend time with my family.

Q. New aspirations and dreams?

The current status I enjoy is way beyond my dreams. I wished to be a part of Indian squad. Once it became a reality, I thought the wish list is over. I admit that there was a lag and I was lazy for a short while. Now I’m dreaming about fresh challenges and setting new goals. I know I have to strive hard to make them come true.