The young centre-back won the League Winners’ Shield with the Red Miners in the 2021-22 season where he formed solid partnerships with Peter Hartley and Eli Sabia at the back coming off the bench. He made 15 appearances for the Men of Steel under head coach Owen Coyle’s tutelage and is expected to get more game time and more chances to explore his potential at Odisha FC. He could well become the face of Odisha defence given his talent and Odisha’s vision of giving young talents the needed breeding ground.
After signing Gahlot on the dotted line, club president Raj Athwal said, “Narender brings a lot of quality and a winning mentality to our backline. As a young centre-back, he has a lot of potential and we hope that he plays his best football for Odisha FC.”
Gahlot came up through the Chandigarh Football Academy, where he started playing as a midfielder. However, Gahlot excelled when his coach at the academy turned him into a centre-back. He gradually developed into one of the promising talents of the country.
Meanwhile, before his tryst with football, the Najafgarh boy had considered playing cricket as a profession. “During my childhood, cricket was all I knew because of my uncle. Everyone in my family always wanted me to be an expert in any sport though. After one of my friends introduced me to football, my goal changed. I went from playing for IYSA (India Youth Soccer Association) academy in New Delhi to joining Chandigarh Football Academy (CFA) within two-three years,” Gahlot said in statement from Odisha FC.
“I also played for Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Dehradun and during my time there, I got selected for the India U-16 squad in 2016. Four years later, I am still learning — from the best now. Sunil (Chhetri) bhai always shares his valuable experience in the national camp, and (Sandesh) Jhingan-paaji shows me how to be effectively aggressive with my defending.”
Gahlot was handed his India senior team debut by current head coach Igor Stimac in 2019 Intercontinental Cup. In his debut ISL campaign in 2019-20, he made 11 appearances for Jamshedpur and till now he has played 36 matches for the Red Miners.