The Goan shot-stopper is looking forward to making most of the upcoming season…
Delhi Dynamos’ new recruit Albino Gomes is keen making the most of his time in the national capital. Picked up for ₹50 lacs, Gomes rose to the limelight with his penalty save against Sunil Chhetri in one of the I-League games, later lifting the trophy with Aizawl FC last season in one of the biggest fairytale stories in Indian football history.
Talking exclusively to Khel Now, Gomes gave us insights into his journey over the years and making it big in such a short duration. He duly acknowledged the support during his youth career from his coaches and colleagues at Salgaocar FC. The Goan club holds a special place in his heart, helping him learn a lot about the sport, which he undoubtedly cherishes.
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During his time at the Greens of Goa, Albino was called up to the India U-13 camp, but could not make it to the final squad. With dedication and intense hard-work needed at that level, not every youngster makes it big. Pecking upwards through the youth system of the Goan club, he had a trip to Old Trafford to train. Regarded as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity he said about the voyage, ” It was an amazing opportunity, just to be on that pitch was legendary. I was with Salgaocar at that time. It was great to visit outside the continent to train, that too at the Theatre of Dreams“.
Albino was a rock at the back for Aizawl FC, the I-league champions. The goalkeeper kept nine clean sheets
While still training at Salgaocar, he recalls that the club’s I-League triumph in 2010-11 was a motivational boost for everyone. He, with his team, used to look at the senior XI and dreamt of treading similar paths. He stated that it was an achievement that accelerated the competition to get into the senior team because everyone wanted to play and win the league for the club.
He could not reach his full potential at Salgaocar but it certainly helped him taste success from close quarters. The learnings at Manchester United and their coaches made him confident to face bigger challenges. He was fully loaded to face the likes of Brazil and Portugal at the Lusofonia games.
“Everything changed after the summit. It was my maiden exposure towards huge viewership of 20-30 thousand people in the stadium. It was something huge for us to witness at that tender age, the matches were quite tough but winning the Gold Medal for the country was like a cherry on the cake.”
Talking about his I-League heroics, he said, “All of the players still cannot believe that we have done it, it is like a dream come true for the club and for all of us. It felt really great to win it in my very first season. We totally enjoyed our game. There was a point in time when we knew that we’re going to make it big in the league. Winning a string of home matches was a boost that helped us believe that we could finally win it. The win in the second last match against Mohun Bagan made us certain of the triumph.”
Gomes played with Lucian Goian and hails him as the best defender he has teamed up with
He spoke highly of his former manager, Khalid Jamil, stating him to be the best manager he has played for. “He is a great coach and gives significance to rigorous practise and training. He understands almost every player on the roster and knows their strengths and weaknesses. It took some time for him to know us completely, but after that, we started performing well. He certainly believed in me despite the fact that it was my maiden season”.
Albino Gomes understands the significance and difficulty that the Indian Super League brings to the game. Having played for Mumbai City FC, he can vouch for the notion that the involvement of quality foreign players makes the ISL a bit tougher than the I-League.
Further talking of the affection within Goans for football, he recalls of spending his teenage going to stadiums to watch various matches of almost every team in Goa and spending days playing football in vacant areas.
He reckons that his favourite saves were the penalty save versus Chhetri, and an I-league save against Mohun Bagan’s Darryl Duffy during the later stages of the season. He regards Chhetri as the best player he has played against. “Sunil Chhetri is a phenomenal player and I was lucky to play with him and against him. Facing him is a very difficult task. He dribbles way too much. Lucian Goian is the best defender I have played with. The tall, intelligent centre-back is amazing.”
The famous penalty save against Indian National team and Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri
Gomes grew up watching Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas as his role models and had Subrata Paul as a close mentor. Analysing and learning from them through his adolescence, he realized that the most important attributes that a goalkeeper must have are confidence and efficient decision-making. “I believe being confident of your actions and taking clever decisions is the crux of goalkeeping. A good goalkeeper must have these qualities. Adding to that, a keeper must also be fast. One of the things that I believe I could improve on is my speed. I am a bit slower than what I desire.”
Talking about his future with the Dynamos Gomes said, “It will be a new experience for me to play for a northern club and it certainly brings a new challenge. I hope to perform better than my own standards.” Sharing his views on the draft system he continued, “I think the player should have a choice because of the difference in directions and style of play. Sometimes, a player is satisfied with the structure and sometimes not. They could choose if they want to play or not. I think if this is the last draft and I am happy with it.”
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Talking about the national team’s rejuvenated rise to the 97th rank Gomes added, “We moved up the pecking order in the FIFA rankings a good 73 positions. It was a great journey for the nation as a whole. The awareness and the grassroots’ training programs developed by the inception of the ISL have had a major impact. The ISL meant that there would more opportunities and exposure towards quality gameplay. One thing that would surely ensure progress is that the national team and the clubs must play as many friendly matches as possible on foreign turf and against tougher teams.”
We wished him all the luck for the upcoming season and asked him for his message for the Indian football fans. Gomes, knowing the state of affairs and the need of the hour signed off, saying, “I urge all Indians to keep supporting the game and help Indian football.”