Romeo Fernandes would be wondering where did it all go so awfully wrong. A year ago, he was easily the country’s most promising young player. And if the ISL is any parameter, then he had passed that test too. He scored three goals for FC Goa and made two assists as they reached the semifinals.
His pacy runs down the wings and ability to play on both flanks impressed Zico, who was quick to proclaim him as the future of Indian football. Zico would subsequently recommend him to Brazilian first division side Atletico Paranaense. And that’s when it all started to fall apart.
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In the following five months in Brazil, Fernandes managed just 21 minutes of competitive football. For rest of the time, he trained with Paranaense’s reserve side but was not seen as good enough to break into the first team. Eventually, he ran out of patience. His loan deal led to a contract stand-off between him and the club. His frustration grew as he was dropped from India squad by coach Stephen Constantine, who was adamant that the youngster would have to get some playing time under his belt to stage a comeback.
Eventually, he had to choose between ‘doing nothing’ in Brazil or playing for India. Not surprisingly, he chose the latter. Fernandes has maintained a low-profile since returning, hardly engaging in any interactions.
His is an example of players and clubs getting drawn into the hype created during the ISL. Constantine even questioned the motive behind the move, suggesting that someone else benefited from it. You would excuse Fernandes from thinking the same.
There’s little doubt about the talent he possesses. And despite his failed South American sojourn, Fernandes will remain a key player for Goa, as he showed during the pre-season where he scored a goal in the friendly. This time, though, one would assume he would be a little wiser. Getting drawn into the hype is the last thing he would indulge in as he starts from scratch.