The Spanish winger spoke about his move to India and ambitions for the club.

FC Goa are re-building their squad for the much-anticipated AFC Champions League campaign. Their think-tank went back to the drawing board and gradually roped in players that can potentially replicate or even better the impact the team created in the last few years. During this process, they also lured in Jorge Ortiz Mendoza.

The winger hails from Spain and plied his trade in the third division of the country’s football league, for Atletico Baleares in 2019-20. The 28-year-old has also turned out for Atletico Madrid’s ‘B’ team in the past and promises to bring incredible quality to Juan Ferrando’s forward line.

He apparently shared a close acquaintance with one of the key Spaniards at Goa, which propelled him to make the shift to the coastal state. “The temptation to come to India and to be able to play for FC Goa, it was something that attracted me for a long time. I was aware about the league and club thanks to my friendship with Edu Bedia and what he said about the club and the league made me even more interested,” the player remarked in an exclusive interview with Khel Now.

He added, “This year many offers were made, but the interest that FC Goa and their team showed me – the club’s project and the conversations with Edu helped me make this decision with much ease.” Mendoza graduated from the youth setup of Getafe CF, who play in LaLiga. He played professionally for multiple clubs in the previous decade, but never ventured out of his native country to seek opportunities elsewhere. That makes one wonder about his intentions behind finally accepting an offer overseas, particularly in India.

Mendoza explained his stance comprehensively. He believes that he is at the most prolific stage in his career and thus observed, “I think it’s the right age. I’m at a great point in my career, maybe the best one. I’ve had a great season and I think the best thing is to be able to continue progress and enjoy the football I play. That’s one big reason I decided to set sail to Goa. People tend to go out there when they are older, but I think it’s better to do it now and it really speaks highly of the club’s project for the future.”

Right from Jofre and Sergio Juste to the likes of Ferran Corominas, Manuel Lanzarote, Carlos Pena and Mendoza’s mate Bedia, FC Goa have had several Spaniards represent them over the years. Surely, it must have been one of the driving elements behind the former Real Oviedo star’s decision to move to the club? He admitted as much and elaborated, “It was an important factor because the club has a very good philosophy of football. It is very similar to football in Spain, which makes adaptation easier. Also, I know many Spaniards who have played in Goa or have seen them play. Every person I spoke to, spoke very highly of the club and it helped to make the decision.”

WATCH: All goals by FC Goa in 2019-20 season

Despite attracting attention from other clubs, the Gaurs present Jorge Ortiz Mendoza the opportunity to play in the group stages of the AFC Champions League in the coming campaign and that is an attraction in itself. Emphasizing on the same, the winger stated, “I think it is a very good opportunity to measure our level against teams from other leagues and countries. There will be a lot of people from India following the team in the competition and we are really hyped to put up a good show for them.”

Spain is acclaimed for its renowned passion for football, a culture that is arguably unmatched in many other countries. Moreover, such level of intensity and following of the sport does not exist in India, barring in certain regions of our nation. Goa is definitely one of those places that take its sport very seriously.

Pondering upon whether that facet attracted him towards the club, Jorge Ortiz Mendoza agreed, “It is a very important factor for any player. Knowing that there is a great football atmosphere both in the stadium and in the region is something that always helps. I hope they can join us soon and enjoy seeing the stadium full (when it is safe). We can surely celebrate some big moments in the coming seasons.”

Team meetings have gone virtual amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Hence, Mendoza’s interactions with head coach Juan Ferrando have been quite limited. Speaking of his first impressions of the 39-year-old tactician, the Spaniard expressed, “Yes, I spoke with him when my signing for the club became official. My first impression was that of a person who has things clear in his head and eager to get the best out of me and the team. We will have time to talk more about football and all other things in the days to come for sure.”

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Regardless of the optimism surrounding FC Goa’s promising recruits, it is vital to consider that the team is going through tectonic changes. With the likes of Ahmed Jahouh, Mandar Rao Dessai, Mourtada Fall and possibly even Hugo Boumous seeking transfers away, the side are in for a challenging ride ahead in the upcoming months.

It is bound to add some more pressure and responsibility on the players that arrive to the club for the 2020-21 season. “No, I don’t think there is any extra pressure for me. I have to adapt to the team and style of play, but we have time for that in the pre-season. I come to try and help the team and my teammates in whatever way I can, just like the previous players would have done as well,” Jorge Ortiz Mendoza pragmatically reflected on the issue.

The coveted Indian Super League trophy has still eluded Goa, despite them having emerged as arguably the best team in the league on multiple occasions. As numerous aspects about the first- team have massively changed in the past few months, it makes one curious regarding the realistic targets that the Gaurs have set for themselves for next season.

Their new winger addressed this question and quipped, “We have not yet discussed such distant goals. We will do so when we are all together. But, personally, I set the bar very high. Last year we were first in the table and a natural progression would be to think about being champions next time around. That is my wish as well and I am here to help achieve it. I came to this club to achieve great things and I am confident of doing that.”

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