Indian Super League (ISL) outfit FC Goa's latest acquisition Alberto Noguera is not your everyday footballer. Not really. He has a Master’s degree in Marketing from the European University of Madrid, absolutely loves golf and Spanish golfer Jon Rahm, appreciates the simpler things in life more and has a keen perception of different cultures. So what made him choose Goa as the next logical step in his playing career?
“The fact that it is a whole new challenge for me,” asserts the midfielder when The Bridge interacted with him to discuss his move to the ISL. “I have always looked to explore the options that I have and that has now led me to Goa. Everything that I have heard about the country, the people, the league, the club, the city and the people have been top-notch and so I expect a thrilling season in Goa,” he went on to add.
The former Atletico Madrid B player, who celebrates his 31st birthday today (Thursday), is looking forward to his Indian adventure after a difficult few months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “In Spain, thankfully we were able to finish the season once the environment was safe enough to do so. This year, I ended up playing until July. And I am buzzing to get back to football and get to India.”
The shadow of the pandemic notwithstanding, FC Goa fans might have a lot to cheer about once the 7th edition of the ISL actually kicks off on the 21st of November. The team looks in good shape ahead of the new season and has replaced its outgoing foreign players well. While Ahmed Jahouh, Mourtada Fall, Ferran Corominas and Hugo Boumous were crucial last season with Goa securing a top of the table finish in the league stage, the signings that have been made to replace them seem to be shrewd, at least on paper.
New head coach Juan Ferrando has brought in Igor Angulo, Jorge Ortiz Mendoza and Ivan Gonzalez, while the ever dependable Edu Bedia has also signed a new 2-year contract that keeps him at the club till 2022. With such a strong Spanish contingent in the side, will he feel more at home in the dressing room?
“Yes, surely. I know a lot of them and also shared a really good relation with Carlos Pena, who spent two seasons here. I spoke to them and did a bit of research. Everything that I saw or heard helped make my decision to come to Goa easier. In the end, it was an easy one,” he said.
Moving to India after spending almost the entirety of their career in Europe can be a huge culture shock for players. When asked about this, the technically gifted midfielder says, “I am confident that this should be a very comfortable transition for me and I will try my best to acclimatize as quickly as possible. I actually have no doubts that I will. We will work towards creating a great environment in the dressing room while pushing each other on the field to be at our competitive best.”
Alberto Noguera (Source: FC Goa Media)
With involvement in 75% of the moves leading to a goal last season for Numancia, the Spaniard is a slippery customer who can put in a solid shift at either end of the pitch. So how would he explain his playing style to the Goa fans? “My playing style I would say is that of a fighter and a winner. I am someone who will look to adapt to any style or tactic if it’s good for the team.”
A coach’s delight when it comes to pressing opposition players, he is someone who excels in ball retention and keeping the midfield ticking over. “I am here to help in whatever the coach needs and play in the position that he needs or wants me to. However, what I feel is that along with the club and the coach, I share the desire to play good football,” he adds.
Comparisons with the departing Hugo Boumous are inevitable with the diminutive French-Moroccan winning the player of the tournament award last season. However, Alberto remains tight-lipped when asked about this.
On a personal front, he feels his Indian sojourn could only help him grow as a player and a person. “I hope to enjoy myself whilst giving my best, learning new things and creating a good team. I hope to have a good season. I know, with the AFC Champions League campaign also in the offering, we will look forward to representing India in that competition.”
We also asked the self-proclaimed travel junkie whether he is looking forward to adding to his travel stories while in the country. “Of course, there are many places in Goa and India I would like to go and spend time in and see, like the beaches of Goa and the Taj Mahal. But, that is something we will look at next season,” he signed off.
The 2020-21 ISL season is set to be a closely contested affair with the entry of new teams, and with the tournament being held in home conditions, FC Goa will be expected to do well. With their passing identity now being talked about in football circles and a promising mixture of local and foreign talent, the team looks set to reach new heights. As for Alberto, he will have to hit the ground running once the team starts assembling for their pre-season and with bags of European experience and knowhow, you wouldn’t want to bet against him.