The Kerala youngster also revealed why he chose the Gaurs despite offers from other ISL clubs.

At FC Goa, a new star is rising and his name is Muhammed Nemil. At just 19 years of age, he is already a well-known figure in Indian football circles, having wowed fans with his exploits in Spain over the last couple of years. This season, he returns to his parent club FC Goa, with whom he will feature in the top levels of Indian football for the very first time.

Some readers may ask as to why there is so much hype around such a player who is yet to make his mark in Indian football’s senior levels. However, those who have seen him play and train with the Gaurs have been able to justify it. “Fans are going to love him. There is really not another player of this age in the whole country, with whom I can compare him with,” says a friend at the club.

Nemil’s numbers with Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) and the Marcet Academy in Spain are also available for public scrutiny. In just three seasons with RFYC, he registered 45 goals and 31 assists across various competitions, having first arrived there as a 13-year-old.

Muhammed Nemil is now a part of FC Goa’s Durand Cup 2021 squad. Just prior to the start of the competition, Khel Now recently caught up with him for his first-ever interview since returning to train with the Gaurs.

The lad from Kerala spoke to us about his beginnings in football, time in Spain, reasons for joining FC Goa and more. Read on!

Exclusive: Muhammed Nemil on playing football in Spain, roots in Kerala, RYFC, FC Goa & ISL

Introduction to football

Nemil started playing football at a very young age. After playing for various teams back at his hometown of Kozhikode, his first big break happened in 2015 when he appeared on RFYC’s radar.

“Football was a part of my life since I was just a kid. I initially played for a couple of football clubs at Kozhikode. Later came Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC), who conducted two trials in my city. I cleared them well and then there was an all-Kerala selection in Thrissur. The selected players, including myself went to Mumbai for the final national-level selection. Ultimately, 24 boys were called up to join the academy in Navi Mumbai and I was one of them,” he said, when asked about his initiation to the game.

Stint at Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC)

The midfielder revealed that RFYC have played a major role in his development so far. “RFYC is definitely a turning point in my life. As I speak in this interview, I would like to use the opportunity to thank my coaches and the staff at RFYC. They always gave an equal importance to both academics and football.

“For the first time, I was taught that apart from on-field performances, off-field discipline is also important,” the 19-year-old revealed. “These lessons shaped me into who I am right now.”

Move to the Marcet Academy in Spain

Ahead of the 2019-20 season, the Reliance Academy sent Nemil to the Marcet High-Performance Academy in Spain, on the back of consistently strong performances over the last few years. The youngster told us that things were a bit difficult for him at first, but not for long.

“Initially I knew nothing, I could not even communicate. They do not speak English, and knowledge of Spanish became a pre-requisite. Slowly I started picking up, I even had Spanish classes. All the coaches from RFYC and the Marcet Academy have helped me a lot over the past few years. Marcet also has an important role in my development,” he said.

Experience of playing in Spanish leagues

Muhammed Nemil benefited very quickly from him stint at Marcet, as FE Grama, a Tercera Division (then the fourth-tier league in Spain) club came calling.

“When I was in Marcet, I got a chance to attend trials at FE Grama, a Barcelona-based football club. It was a one-week trial and I cleared it successfully. I got selected to their team and played for them for a whole season. In the beginning, I was a bit low on confidence. I wasn’t sure if I would make it big or not,” he recollected. “But slowly I got used to the pace of the game, and ultimately scored seven goals in about ten matches. In the end I was happy with my performances.”

At Grama, the midfielder played for both the junior and senior teams. Their junior team played in Liga Nacional – the second-tier of the Spanish youth football league system – where he scored seven goals including two hat-tricks. He later made his debut for the senior team in the Tercera Division also.

Signing with FC Goa

FC Goa made headlines last summer when they signed Nemil ahead of the 2020-21 season. “I got the offer from Goa while at Marcet. I was very happy when I learned about their interest. Later, I communicated the same to my parents and the coaches at RFYC and they were happy as well. This gave me the encouragement to agree terms with them and sign,” he revealed to Khel Now.

The 19-year-old further added, “I chose FC Goa because I like the culture here. Not to mention the style of football. I’ve grown accustomed to the Spanish style of playing the game over the past couple of years. With the Gaurs following the same style, it made it easier to say yes to them. The club now has a Spanish coach and also a few Spanish players, so I really felt I would fit in here.”

He also spoke about his first impressions with the Goan outfit. “The players are really good here. It’s not that difficult to play at their level – but at the same time, it’s not so easy as well. Having played in Spain for a while now, I’m slowly coping with it.

“Ultimately, I just feel really excited and happy to play in one of the best teams in India.”

First conversation with the Goa coach, Juan Ferrando

“I had my first chat with Juan Ferrando while at Spain itself. He briefed me about how things are done at FC Goa and about the training sessions in particular. Speaking to him made me feel even better about my decision,” Nemil said, indicating how important of a role the FC Goa tactician played in his arrival at the club.

As of today, the Kerala youngster has attended several training sessions under the supervision of the Spanish tactician, who is really happy with his progress as per club sources. Ferrando also named the midfielder in the Gaurs’ Durand Cup 2021 squad – a result of his performances in training.

What fans can expect from him

When asked about the best traits that are to be developed by midfielder, Muhammed Nemil said, “According to me, vision is very important for a midfielder. Good passing, dribbling and communication skills also help a great deal. By ‘vision’ I mean scanning the pitch, identifying where my teammates are, where the opposition defenders are, gaps between the lines, and so on. You need to have good vision when not in possession also.

“I believe that I am on the right path in terms of development on all the above aspects. Additionally, in the field I like to dribble a lot and score many goals. I also like setting up chances for my teammates,” he further added.

Message to FC Goa fans

Muhammed Nemil wound up the interaction with a short message to the FC Goa fans who are eagerly anticipating his debut for their club.

“I’m aware that it’s been really long since fans last visited the Fatorda Stadium in their regular numbers, to watch Goa play. I’ve seen how much of a support the club gets at Fatorda and one day, I hope to play in front of all of them. However, as things stand, this is not possible sadly. So, in the meantime, I want fans to continue supporting the club while hoping that everything gets better soon,” he signed off.

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