The youngster has been Chennai City’s breakout Indian performer this season in the league.
It’s been a new dawn for Chennai City FC this season. Sitting idly at the top of the table, they look firm title-favorites having won six out of their ten matches. The beautiful Spanish style of football immersed into the side by Akbar Nawas is reaping rewards, with Chennai playing the best football in the I-League. While much of the credit has gone to their Spanish core, the domestic mix has also done a commendable job.
A player who’s shown incredible understanding of this brand new system is Alexander Jesuraj. Romario, as he’s fondly called, is now their most prominent domestic attacker, terrorizing defences with his pace and dribbling on the right wing. Jesuraj has been the breakout star for Chennai City this campaign and has played a pivotal role in their early boom.
Khel Now had the opportunity to chat with the youngster, who had much to say about life at Chennai City. Romario was encouraged with the beautiful game throughout his childhood and fell in love with it relatively early in his life.
About his earliest memories of football he said, “My name is Romario, which is inspired by the Brazilian footballer. My uncle named me Romario and right from when I was a child, I loved playing football. My uncle encouraged me to fall in love with football.”
Jesuraj showed his impressive talent at a very young age. When asked about his youth career he said, “During my sixth standard, I gave a trial for the Indian youth camp. But, I didn’t get selected. In my first year of college, I played in the Chennai First Division league.”
Watch: Rapid fire round with Alexander Romario Jesuraj
“In my college second year, I played for Chennai City in the Chennai league. Afterwards, I played for the Indian Bank football team for two years, folllowing which I was permanently signed by Chennai City,” he recalled.
Romario said that it was only after Chennai City approached him that he saw football as a profession. However, he remains tight-lipped about labelling his side as going for the championship this season, insisting that a top-four finish is the team’s and his own priority this campaign.
Further speaking about Nawas, he hailed the gaffer for helping him improve as a player. Jesuraj said, “It’s all because of what coach Nawas has done that we’re playing such impressive football this season. The first week of pre-season was especially gruelling for us.”
“He wasn’t satisfied with the performance level of the local boys. After that, he helped improve the domestic core and integrate the style into the team.” he further added.
The winger stated that the experience of playing in the I-League last season helped him further improve his performance levels this term. He also added that he feels the team this season is much better than last.
Jesuraj gives a lot of credit to coach Nawas for his own development as a player this season. Speaking about the coach’s impact Romario said, “After every practice session is over, the coach has helped correct the errors in my game. He’s helped me get rid of my mistakes and definitely improved me a lot.”
Jesuraj (left) has been a standout performer for Chennai City this season
He also credited the Spanish players for helping improve their game this season as he revealed, “All the Spanish players are really talented and very good people. During every practice session, they motivate us to score goals more often. They are always looking to help me improve upon my mistakes and improve as a winger.”
Jesuraj also had interesting praise for his Spanish teammates, explaining how the current core is different from the others. He said, “Most of the foreign players werere playing individually. However, these players are not like them. They are not looking to gain glory for themselves, but to help us improve and play as a team.”
Michael Soosairaj was Chennai City’s breakout star last season and made a huge impact for them. When asked about whether he feels any pressure to replicate Soosairaj’s success and become the “next Soosairaj” for Chennai City Jesuraj said, “I don’t think there’s any kind of pressure like that. We miss Soosai in the team.”
Romario opined that his impressive speed and crossing ability are the biggest strengths in his game right now. However, he’s keen to improve on scoring goals more consistently as he feels he’s missed many scoring opportunities so far this season and wants to score more in the upcoming matches.
Romario scored his first league goal against Indian Arrows in the season opener
Chennai and Romario had a beneficiary season in the Chennai Senior Division, which served as decent preparation for the I-League. “The Chennai league last year was very good for me and helped me play some games in the I-League for Chennai City. For me, the Chennai league was great preparation for the I-League last year and this year as well.”
“I feel the basic competition in the I-League and Chennai league are almost the same. The I-League just has better foreign players,” he opined when asked about the competitiveness of both the Chennai Senior Division and the I-League.
Romario also feels scheduling is a big factor when comparing something like the Chennai Senior Division and the I-League. He explained, “Last season we played in the Chennai league, we had 12 matches which took place at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.
“This year, the I-League has much better scheduling and only three matches at 2 o’clock. The scheduling in the I-League this season is much better,” he added.
The forward also had humble words for Chennai City owner Rohit Ramesh as he said, “Rohit Sir is very helpful to the domestic players and always gives us a lot of preference in the team. Every local player in the team will come up only when Rohit sir thinks they are good enough to come up. The same was for Soosairaj as well.”
Romario scored his first I-League goal against Indian Arrows in the season opener earlier in October. Talking about it he said, “The match against Arrows was tough, but pretty good. They scored within two minutes and we had to work hard to come back. It felt good to score my first I-League goal against them.”
“They are a very aggressive side, they have no fear and aren’t intimidated by the superior opponents in the I-League. They are playing with a sense of aggressiveness, which was good to see.” he added.
Finally, when asked about whether he feels Chennai City can emulate the glory Chennaiyin FC have brought to Tamil Nadu football by bringing home the I-League title this season he said, “Yes, I think we can do that. We will do our best this season to win the I-League.”
“The season is going good so far and I hope we can maintain that run to go all the way this season.”, he signed off with optimism.