The Brazilian also revealed that Ranti Martins is the best striker he has played with in his career.
Over the years, Indian football have seen many overseas players come and go, however, few had an impact like Beto. The Brazilian maestro who plied his trade for Mohun Bagan, Dempo SC and Churchill Brothers have seen Indian football very closely in his decade-long stay in the country.
During Khel Now’s Beyond The Scores podcast, the Brazilian midfielder shared stories from his time in India. He started with his journey from Brazil to Mohun Bagan and how it materialized. “I was in Brazil playing for a club called Juventus and then Douglas (Da Silva) had a request to come to India which arrived through his friend and then he spoke with me about the possibilities of playing in India. I started to think about it and then joined Mohun Bagan in 2004.”
“The day I arrived there was a match at Salt Lake where Indian national team played against Japan. I was very impressed with the packed stadium and the vibration of the supporters, it was an amazing experience which I did not expect when I left Brazil. But I was very happy to see the passionate supporters especially in Kolkata,” he added.
Despite playing mesmerising football for the Mariners, the midfielder’s stay was cut short as Dempo SC came calling. But Beto felt the Mohun Bagan team had everything to win titles but the management lacked patience in their approach.
“There was no particular reason why I left Mohun Bagan. After my first season in India, we went to five finals and unfortunately, we lost all of them. It was a good season for me, but that time the directors and the club president did not have the sensibility to understand that it was my first season in India. I think I scored 24 goals that season and with that team of Sunil Chhetri, Ashim Biswas, (Jo Paul) Ancheri, Subrata Paul we could have won trophies in the next seasons. But they did not have patience and I got an invitation from Armando Colaco so I decided to go to Goa.”
Dempo SC soon became his second home as Beto flourished under the tutelage of Armando Colaco. The Golden Eagles were dominating the league with a team which is rightfully known as their ‘Golden Generation’. Beto opined on the basic difference he experienced at Mohun Bagan and Dempo – which he believes was the mantra for a team to be successful back then.
“The basic difference between Dempo and Mohun Bagan was the understanding of the game among the club president and the coach. They were already building an empire and were the national and Federation Cup champions. I was very well received, they treated me like family and I felt the unity among the players made them so successful.”
“Armando (Colaco) had the expertise to bring big players together and make them work as a team. One thing he did not interfere was creativity, he organised the team to defend and attack but he gave us the freedom to express on the field. I am grateful to Armando forever,” Beto recalled when asked about his bond with Armando Colaco.
The Golden Eagles did not only conquer India, but proved it at the continental level as well. Colaco’s men reached the AFC Cup semifinals in 2008 defeating Singaporean outfit Home United in the quarter final – becoming the first Indian team to achieve that feat. Speaking about the Goan side’s AFC Cup campaign that season, Beto revealed that he feels making it to the semifinal was nothing less than a title for Dempo SC, taking into account the state of Indian football at that time.
“After playing some matches in the AFC we started believing in ourselves that it can happen. That year we started the season very well and with every game, we started believing and the most important game was in Malaysia, the second leg and we had to win to go through and we won 4-3. It gave a lot of confidence. It also gave confidence to other clubs in future to reach that stage.
“I have seen Indian football for many years and I carry that AFC Semifinal as a title because we did not have that much facilities as our opponents,” he opined.
Dempo were a well-oiled unit during the 2000s, however, it was the telepathic partnership between Beto and Ranty Martins which took the Goan outfit to the next level. They displayed exceptional chemistry as they broke havoc on the pitch, creating and scoring chances for each other and tormenting opposition defenders. Reminiscing his playing days, Beto feels that the Nigerian marksman was the best striker he has ever played with.
“Ranty Martins for me is the best striker I have played with in my career and that has shown on the ground. I have played with a lot of top players but the understanding between us was building and fighting each other. We had the same mentality of winning games and trying to make things happen for the club. We had a little argument when I joined but then soon things fell in place and then we became best friends. I still have contact with him and I feel he was the best partner in my career,” the Brazilian opined.
After a long association with Dempo SC, the Brazilian moved to Churchill Brothers. However, he clarified his decision and also shared his admiration for the then Churchill head coach Subhas Bhowmick.
“When I arrived in Kolkata to play for Mohun Bagan, I remember like two or three times in the season the coach of Mohun Bagan wanted to release me because he wanted success immediately. But Subhas Bhowmick, who was the coach of East Bengal used to say good things about me in public. He said if he had a player like me he could win trophies, that touched me. So I decided to work with him when he came to Churchill Brothers.”
The midfielder also shared his views on the Indian Super League and its differences during his time in India at the I-League.
“It is not only about playing but also about watching, if you see the infrastructure of the games, the way it is organised with players staying in five star hotels, the grounds are amazing, the grass and the pitch is taken good care. There are lot of differences, you would not have seen those things during my time in the I-League. I always say that Indian players during my time were warriors, they did not have these facilities but they played some fantastic football,” he signed off.
Beyond The Scores Podcast is also available on JioSaavn.