The Delhi Dynamos winger talks ISL, playing in Brazil, favourite managers and more.
Its been an interesting journey in for winger Romeo Fernandes. Starting out at former I-League champions Dempo Sports Club he has had spells with Indian Super League(ISL) outfit FC Goa and Kolkata giants East Bengal. He’s even been on loan to Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense.
Now, recuperating from an injury at the ISL’s only capital club Delhi Dynamos, the winger spoke exclusively to Khel Now on his time in Indian football.
While being at the Gaurs for three seasons, Fernandes made a name for himself. The Goan lad was so good there that Brazilian coach Zico had nothing but praise for him and the feeling it seem is mutual. Romeo said, “I think I can say Zico is my favourite manager. I have played three years under him. He always motivated me. He was never strict.”
The winger even vouched for the Brazilian as his choice to be Stephen Constantine‘s successor as the manager of the national side. When questioned he answered, “Yes obviously, I would love to see Zico as the manager of the Indian national team.”
Though Romeo made a mere three appearances for Dempo in their title-winning 2011-12 I-League campaign, it still holds a special place for him because he won his first senior trophy at the club. He recalled, “For me, it was my first season for Dempo’s senior side and I was there as a part of the team. I was playing. I can’t forget the trophy because it was my first trophy and so it was great.”
ISL or I-League? It has been the question asked of every player in Indian football in recent years. When asked about his pick Fernandes said, “It’s been four years since I’ve been playing in the ISL. So, for me, the ISL is better.”
Romeo rose to prominence only after a prolific ISL season for FC Goa. His performances earned him a loan spell at Brazil’s Serie A side Atletico Paranaense, in the process making him the first Indian to play there. Reflecting on the experience he said, “For me to be in Brazil was great. Brazil is a legendary country and so to have played in Brazil is a great achievement for me.”
The forward is relishing the opportunity of playing under Delhi coach Miguel Angel Portugal. “As a person he is good. Still, now he is motivating us. For young players, he keeps giving us chances, motivates us and as a coach he has been different from all the other coaches I’ve been under.”
Last season after the ISL, Romeo had a loan spell at East Bengal. When questioned about how different it was for him to play in Kolkata after having played almost his entire career in Goa he said, “For me, it was difficult to play in Kolkata because I was not a native. It took some time for me to adapt to the conditions and steadily it became better.”
He added, “People recognise me in Goa but in Kolkata, everything was so different. The fans particularly are very supportive, they would be there for every training session since day one to the last day of the campaign.”