What’s the story?
The India Under-19 national team are currently camped in Goa in preparation for the AFC U19 Championship 2018 qualifiers, which will be played in November and will see India take on Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Yemen. Featuring in the side is 18-year-old Princeton Rebello, who has quite a unique story.
In July 2014, he moved to England to play for the Queens Park Rangers and was a part of their U-15 team for six months. He returned home to India after the stint at the London club but once again, he shifted to the UK with his mother next year.
“Back in the UK, QPR sent me for trials at Watford FC and I was selected for their U-16 team,” says Rebello. “The had me in their future plans and told me to procure a Portuguese passport, which I refused to do as I would lose my Indian citizenship and with that, my aspirations to play for my country.”
In mid-2016, he was once again back in Goa and represented Vasco SC in the Goa Premier League, where he shone in an attacking midfield role and recorded two goals with six assists.
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Rebello is touted as a huge prospect to watch out for in the future and started playing at the age of eight at his local football club.
The heart of the matter
At the advice of former Dempo SC coach Armando Colaco, he joined Goan side Betalbatim Sports Club and with the team, he won a host of tournaments at various age-group levels. He earned his first ever India call-up soon, as he was included in the India U-15 side in 2013 and played two tournaments.
He then moved to the UK, where he played for QPR and had a successful trial at Watford, after which he turned down the chance to play for them. He was scouted by top I-League sides such as Minerva Punjab FC and East Bengal but he opted to play for the Sporting Club de Goa U-19 team.
Rebello’s dream is to play for the Indian national team and in the near future, he wants to make the cut into the India U-19 starting lineup. He was also one of the few Goan youngsters handpicked by ISL franchise FC Goa as part of their ‘developmental team’ and he wishes to turn out for its senior team in the upcoming campaign.
It is amazing to see a young player turn down the opportunity to sign for a Premier League club in order to keep his dream of playing for India alive. Here’s hoping it comes true as soon as possible!
Also read: India might soon host Premier League matches