ISL: Two I-League titles under his belt, Romario Jesuraj is unfazed by FC Goa challenge
It has been quite an eventful couple of years for Tamil Nadu winger Alexander Romario Jesuraj, who will be turning out for FC Goa in ISL.
It has been quite an eventful couple of years for Tamil Nadu winger Alexander Romario Jesuraj, who will be turning out for FC Goa in the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) season. The 24-year-old, named after the Brazilian legend Romario, has had a meteoric rise to national recognition following a string of impressive performances for I-League outfit Chennai City FC in the 2017-18 and 18-19 seasons.
His prodigious talent and ability on the ball saw FC Goa queue up to sign the youngster last summer on a three-year deal before loaning him out to Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan for another season in the I-League.
Although the soft-spoken lad from Dindigul got fewer opportunities at Bagan, his hard work and dedication on the training ground and on the pitch impressed one and all and now, the talented winger is ready to don FC Goa's jersey in the ISL. The Bridge got hold of him whilst he was with the side in Goa preparing for the start of the season later this month. Here are the excerpts from a casual tête-à-tête.
Q. You've played in Chennai and Kolkata and now will be turning out for FC Goa in the ISL. From your experience, how different are the footballing cultures in these places and how difficult has it been to adjust accordingly?
Jesuraj: The style of football that was played in both Chennai City FC and Mohun Bagan were similar. So I did not find it hard to adapt to the playing style. The fans in Kolkata, though, are really aggressive. They want you to win all the matches. That was an added pressure there in Kolkata.
Now that I have understood how to adapt to different places and culture and have learnt to step out of my comfort zone, I don’t find it hard to adapt here at FC Goa. All the three teams play a similar attacking brand of football which is something that suits my game.
Q. You've played under both foreign and Indian coaches in your career so far. Do you find any major differences in their approach?
Jesuraj: There are differences from one coach to the other but that doesn’t necessarily depend on their nationality. The European countries and those with great football heritage have a deep culture of football and thus they have been able to cultivate a number of effective ideas over time. You learn something new from each and every coach and how you implement what you learn from them is what matters at the end of the day.
Q. Could you elaborate on how easy or difficult it is to build a healthy dynamic when it comes to interacting with players from different cultures, especially when you've just met them?
Jesuraj: For me personally, the only difficulty is with the language initially, but I try to build a good rapport and get comfortable with them. I have always made sure to learn from them as they are more experienced and they help you by teaching you how to improve from your mistakes.
Q. How was your experience of playing in Kolkata with Mohun Bagan? Has that made you more immune towards pressure?
Jesuraj: Yes, playing for Mohun Bagan was a great experience and that too so early on in my life. That was the first time I stepped out of my comfort zone. The experiences there really helped me a lot to evolve into a better person as well as a better player. Most of the pressure in Kolkata comes because of the fans as they are so passionate about the team and the game. And after the initial settling down period, I was able to learn how to deal with it.
Q. Do you model your playing style on someone? Who are the players in your position that you admire the most in world football?
Jesuraj: There are many players whom I take inspiration from but my favourite amongst them has to be Cristiano Ronaldo.
Q. Besides football, what other interests do you have? How did you keep yourself occupied during the lockdown apart from individual training and working out?
Jesuraj: I spent a lot of time with my family during the lockdown. I used to play badminton in the evenings and during the day I spent my time watching series/TV and playing board games with my family members. It was a difficult time but I guess it did help me refocus on the tasks ahead.
Q. How is the pre-season shaping up? Give us an idea of how a regular training day is like?
Jesuraj: Pre-season is going great so far and the outdoor training is a highly intense one. It’s something that is quite new to me and way more than what I had experienced before. But now I have got used to it and have started loving each and everything about the training process. I am looking forward to making the best out of it when the season officially starts.
Q. You've already won a couple of I-League titles, that too with two different clubs. What are your aspirations with FC Goa and for the upcoming season?
Jesuraj: Playing for FC Goa was one of my dreams all along because of the brand of football that the team plays, and that has finally come true. I am looking forward to giving my best in all possible ways for the team and aspiring to win my first ISL title. I hope to perform well in the AFC Champions League as well and contribute in whatever way possible towards the team’s success.