Room 1424 at the Grand Ashok looks different. While the rooms occupied by his teammates have high-end products from Dolce and Gabbana, Calvin Klein to Tommy Hilfiger strewn all over, the one where India goalkeeper Subrata Pal is rooming has an array of photographs of Hindu deities placed prominently on the dressing table.
“He (Pal) has always been like that - religious. And maybe that's what helps when the chips are down,” said India skipper Bhaichung Bhutia.
That's how it's been with him. Be it the tragic incident that led to Cristiano Junior's death five years ago or being offloaded by East Bengal this season, Pal has always come back stronger.
It was Pal's stunning saves against Kyrgyzstan in the ONGC 14th Nehru Cup on Sunday that has kept India in the competition.
India won 2-1 with Pal keeping out two close-range efforts and a penalty.
The day after, Pal looked calm. Even the mention of East Bengal didn't make get him to react.
“There's no point in looking back. These might be controversial. I don't want to talk about them. I am just concentrating on my game so that I can contribute to the team's success,” he told HT on Monday.
He didn't even want to talk about his saves on Sunday. “Sorry, I don't want to talk about them.”
Bhutia though was game when asked about his goalkeeper's efforts. “He is a transformed man. I have seen from a long time, from the days he used to play for Mohun Bagan and then at East Bengal,” Bhutia said.
“Gone are the days when he would fight and quarrel. The best thing about him is that he has many years left in football career and his best is yet to come,” Bhutia said.