Interview: Edinho Junior’s Journey to India
A brace on debut against Pune FC net and the subsequent celebratory fandango gave a fair indication of the instant ease with which Portuguese born striker – Edinho Junior – settled in to his brief yet significant role at Shillong Lajong football club. The 19-year-old Blackburn Rovers striker who was on a two month loan spell to our very own Shillong Lajong FC, now says goodbye with a heavy heart to his many fans in the North-east as he has completed his stint with the club. Edinho speaks about his journey in the country, personally and football-wise.
How has your Indian experience been?
Edinho: It has been a very good experience coming to India. I thought Portugal was hot, but it is nothing compared to the heat over here. But I got used to the place fast.
What was the first thing that you noticed about India?
The country is very big. There are lots of people. Portugal is tiny compared to India.
What was the reaction of the people close to you when you told them you will be playing in India?
People were against me coming here. They told me that India is not good for football. That I would not learn much there. But after experiencing professional football here for two months, I found out that they were very wrong. Football here is at a good competitive level.
The players here are very strong and more than that very physical. The practice regimen here and the drills are comparable to those in Europe. So in all, for me the experience was great. I am young and playing with senior professionals has improved my game. In each match I had 2-3 defenders who would cover me and I still managed to score.
Weren’t you afraid that the Portuguese selectors wouldn’t notice you since you were playing in India?
That worried me a little bit. But then the results are there to be seen. Even though I was so far away I was selected for the Portugal under 19 team. That’s very good for me.
What was the experience like for you personally?
This experience was good for me as an individual too. It helped me grow as a person. I got the chance to experience a whole new culture.
Your best moment/moments?
There were a couple of them. My first game when I walked on to the pitch and the roar of support from the Lajong fans. And also the two goals I scored against Pune FC. Those moments were great.
Did you miss your family, your home when you were here?
I was very far from home and I was concerned about that. I was on a whole other continent. But the warmth of the Shillong people made me feel at home again. Every time I touched the ball the crowd would cheer loudly as if I scored a goal. I loved it.
The people loved me a lot. Every time I would be out on the streets they would ask for my autographs and photos. The girls would wait for an hour outside the stadium after the matches just to give me a bouquet of flowers. It was very sweet. I will miss them dearly.
Any lasting friendships in the SLFC squad?
I love all of them dearly. But few of them like the Japanese players – Sho Kamimura and Taisuke Matsugae – and Renedy Singh I was especially close to. We would often share coffee together at night.
Who is the best player that you have played with?
Nuno Gomes. He is my strike partner at Blackburn Rovers. He is my mentor, my guide. He always instructs me on and off the pitch. I have been having regular conversations with him during my stay in India as well.
What is your dream?
To play for Real Madrid alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.
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