Rakib Hossain is now of the most exciting names in Bangladesh after his eye-catching performance in the SAFF Championship 2023. The Bangladeshi winger has already made two contributions in a back-to-back wins for Bangladesh which led them to a SAFF semi-final birth after 14 years. Post his excellent outing against Bhutan, the Cristiano Ronaldo and Yuvraj Singh fan from Barisal shared his story to Sportz Point at Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore.
In the game against Bhutan, in the 36th minute of the game, Bangladesh's No.10 Rakib Hossain scored a goal past the goalkeeper which looked mathematically impossible. Before that, he had already contributed for Bangladesh with a volley that led an own goal by Bhutan. With that, Rakib Hossian became an overnight star in South Asian football. But, this prolific winger never had the plan to play football.
"I never had the plan to become a footballer," Rakib said once he was asked about his football journey. "I come from a very humble background and everyone in my family wanted me to study well and then earn for my family," he added.
Rakib started playing football at the age of 12-13 when two of his neighbourhood elder brothers Rakib and Sohail took him to play a school football tournament in Barisal. "They somehow thought I could play football. I played as a midfielder." Then the sports secretary of Barisal District saw him play and suggested him to play as a winger. Post that, everything started changing for him.
Just like most of the Bangladeshis, Rakib is also a fan of cricket. In fact, before football, he used to watch more cricket than football. Even he was a fan of Yuvraj Singh and now loves Virat Kohli.
"Actually, I used to watch more cricket than football. I am a fan of Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli. Other than the Bangladesh cricket team, I used to love watching the Indian cricket team."
But, it is Cristiano Ronaldo who inspires Rakib the most. The "siuuu celebration" after his two goals showed his love for the Portuguese legend. Along with Cristiano, Rakib loves to watch Neymar play. Although he admits Lionel Messi is one of the greats of the game, it is Ronaldo and Neymar whom he loves the most.
"I love Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. Both were wingers at the start of their careers. And, I love watching them. When it comes to World Cups, I support Brazil (with a smile on his face)," Rakib told Sportz Point.
Rakib Hossain plays for one of the biggest clubs in Bangladesh, Basundhara Kings. In fact, nearly 8 footballers of the Bangladesh team are from the Basundhara Kings. Bashundhara Kings has an international standard set up in the club's very own stadium and focuses on the development of footballers from the grassroots level. This is the reason behind the club's six titles since the 2017-18 season when they were first promoted to the first-division league. Before joining Basundahara, Rakib played one season with Abahani and three seasons for Chittagong.
The 24-year-old Bangladeshi winger now wishes that every Bangladeshi club have the same professional approach as Bashundhara Kings. As per him, this will help Bangladesh football grow in a more rapid manner if every club can replicate Bashundhara Kings' approach. Although he accepts that the financial condition of a few clubs is a hindrance to that.
Rakib is well aware of the fact that Bangladeshi people had turned their back on them after not seeing results for long. They have now made cricket their first choice sport to watch and support. However, he feels with their qualification in the semi-final of the SAFF Championship 2023 after 14 years, the fans will come back to them.
"After my goal in the game against Maldives, my father celebrated and shouted so hard that his voice cracked. They were so happy. I received so many texts and calls after that. So, that means, if we can do well like this, I think the fans will be back supporting us," Rakib said.
Along with international football, Rakib is an avid follower of the India Super League and he agrees that one day he would love to have the opportunity to play football in India. Although he follows every club, Rakib is a Mohun Bagan fan and would not mind donning the green and maroon in the near future.
With a chance to make history in the next game, Rakib feels it is the trust of coach Javier which has helped him and the other footballers in the team a lot. He recalls the fact the coach saw each and every league game of the first-division Bangladesh League to select the whole squad for the SAFF Championship 2023.
Coach Javier had so much trust in Rakib that he selected him despite having a Grade-A injury. "Coach has trust in me and all the other players. He selected me despite having injury just because he knew that I will work hard to get fit and do well for the team."
Not only that, coach Javier has brought a professional culture to Bangladesh football. From diet to training, he notices everything. Although he loves each and every footballer in the team, he has a zero-tolerance policy on those things. Rakib feels the coach might make them follow the diet even on festivals like Eid.
With all the love he is getting from all over Bangladesh, Rakib still wants to stay like the kid that started playing football in Barisal. He wants to stay in his village, spend time with his local friends, enjoy street food and live his life to the fullest. "My family is the most important thing for me. And, just like my family, I love my village life. I love the street food here and love spending time with my local friends," he stated.