CHENNAI: It’s been a long road home for Alwyn George. After leaving his hometown Nagpur to train with the Tata Football Academy as a teenager, the 26-year-old’s career has taken him through Delhi, Goa and Bengaluru. But now Alwyn will finally get to boot up in his home state, after FC Pune City signed him up for the upcoming season. “It is exciting to finally play in my home state,” he says. “It is not that my family has not watched me play before — they used to do that when I was playing in Goa (with Dempo and FC Goa). But in Pune, I will be able to play in front of a lot of my friends and family.”
After first coming to the fore through Pailan Arrows, big things were expected of Alwyn, especially after being adjudged the FPAI Young Player of the Year in 2013. But he found it tough to break into the starting eleven, first at FC Goa and then at Bengaluru FC which he joined in 2015. The attacking midfielder hopes he can put an end to that run with Pune. “At Bengaluru, it was difficult for me to nail down a place in the starting eleven because they had so much talent in midfield,” he says.
“Hopefully at Pune, I will get more chances. This season is extremely important for me because I am approaching my peak years.” And Alwyn believes the fact that so many young players got chances to play at Pune last year augurs well for him. “I think this year, you will see some great football from Pune,” he says. “We have a great mix of youth and experience. I have been with the team for three weeks now and from what I have seen, we have some serious talent.” But one of the most important things for Alwyn is to do whatever it takes to grab Stephen Constantine’s attention and make it to the Asian Cup squad.
Alwyn was handed his national team debut while still a Pailan Arrows player by then coach Wim Koevermans and took to the field when India lined up against Palestine in Kochi in 2013. Constantine has previously given Alwyn a chance — he was called up in the initial part of the Englishman’s reign. But his lack of playing time at club level that was never going to last. “I think I last played for India against Nepal, the game we won 4-1,” he says. “It is an honour to represent your country at any level and doing that at the Asian Cup is even more so. I have two months to show everyone what I can do. I hope I can do that and force my way into the national team.”