The 22-year-old has already had his fair share of experience in Indian football, representing Mohun Bagan in the early days of his career.
Mumbai City’s local lad Raynier Fernandes has been one of the good performers for the Islanders in the current Indian Super League (ISL) season. The midfielder has made six appearances uptill now and has also scored two goals in the process.
In a recent interview conducted by Khel Now’s Mumbai correspondent Sabin Castelino, Raynier opened up about his journey towards the top of Indian football. As he started with the interview, it looked more like an informal conversation as he was pretty jolly and casual, yet confident with his approach.
He commenced with the interaction by speaking about the start of his footballing journey in Mumbai, particularly at Don Bosco, saying, “I jumped to Don Bosco in my 7th grade because football there was a whole different thing than it was at my last school. The experience was amazing and I got to learn new stuff. The level of football in the school itself changed me into the way I am now. It was great. The players were good, the coaches were great as they supported us.”
Talking about the transition from playing in the Elite Division in Mumbai to playing in the I-League, the 22-year-old asserted, “It was good. My first club during my school and college days was Companeros, where I only played the playoffs for the Super Division. There were six games in all and we did it, we got qualified for the Super Division (also called the Elite Division).”
The youngster has slowly become a crucial player for Mumbai
“That was the time when Air India saw me play and put me to the Elite Division. The competition there was pretty good and it was a totally new thing for me and a new challenge for me to play in that division.”
“I played there for two years and then I got selected to play for Mohun Bagan in the I-League. That was a completely different thing. I liked playing in the I-League as it got me the exposure that I needed. The competition in the league was good and I learnt a lot there.”
At the mere age of 20, Raynier played in the I-League for a huge club like Bagan and subsequently shifted to the ISL a couple of years later to join Mumbai City. Thus, when asked about the difference he felt between the two leagues he said, “The first season at Bagan wasn’t a very good one for me as I got to play only a couple of games. However, the second one was pretty good as I got to play a lot of games. As I kept playing, I went on getting the experience. I also played the (Kolkata) Derby and got a lot of experience of playing in big games like that.”
“It worked as a plus point for me and then jumping from there to the ISL was for me, one of my dreams come true because ISL has too much exposure and it’s really good to play there.”
During his days at Bagan, Raynier played alongside Subhasish Bose until the latter moved to the ISL side. However, the duo reunited in the ISL this season as Raynier followed Subhasish to join Mumbai City. When asked whether he would be looking to join the defender as a teammate in the Indian national team the midfielder said, “That is actually a different thing. I’m focusing on how every step goes. Yes, I’ve seen him [Subhasish] as he was my colleague and he went through much higher things before me. It’s his thing and his hard-work. I’m also trying to get there and I feel like I should be there in the coming years and playing alongside him.”
Fernandes has shown a lot of energy so far, as he seems to track down the entire pitch during the game. Talking about the secret behind that energy, he smilingly said, “I don’t know. It’s the effort that me and my teammates put in during training. The more you work hard in the field, it shows up in the field. I just do my job and don’t think about how much I have to run. Whatever I need to do for the team, I do that.”
Revivez les plus belles actions du match entre le @MumbaiCityFC et le @ChennaiyinFC, avec notamment les buts de @papesougou et Raynier Fernandes. #MUMCHE #LetsFootball #FootEnInde pic.twitter.com/8HRHihPiVe
— Foot En Inde (@FootEnInde) December 6, 2018
Watch: Raynier’s goal against Chennaiyin
The midfielder has played six games this season till now and also scored his first goal for the club in the game against Delhi Dynamos, when his side picked up a 4-2 away win. He scored against Chennaiyin too. Talking about his overall experience so far in the season, he said, “The first game, my debut for Mumbai City was almost like a dream come true as I always wanted to play in the ISL. Playing in front of the fans, my family and my brother who watched me play after a long time. So, it was a good thing and I got confidence. Playing for Mumbai is a big thing for me and I want to keep playing.”
Moreover, he spoke about how the Mumbai City fans play an important role in the games and how the players want the fans to keep supporting them like they do. He believes that the fans make the players push themselves to keep doing more.
Furthermore, Raynier went on to express his admiration for the Mariners saying, “If I would ever get an opportunity to play there again, I would definitely do so. After all, the club gave me the exposure and made me the player I am today.”
Before winding up the interaction, Raynier was asked to pick his best 5-a-side team from across the world as well as from the ISL. In the World 5, the youngster picked Dani Alves along with Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi with David De Gea in goal. As for the ISL 5, he picked Gurpreet Singh Sandhu as the keeper with his former teammate Ricky Lallawmawma and Sandesh Jhingan making up the defence and of course Sunil Chhetri as the forward.