Sanson Pereira was one of many local talents who played a pivotal role in FC Goa's ISL 2020-21 campaign. Pereira, who plays as a left-back, impressed head coach Juan Ferrando enough to eventually become a mainstay of the playing eleven in the subsequent AFC Champions League.
Sportskeeda got candid with the Nuvem-born youngster in a two-part exclusive interview. Pereira talks about the role of the Goa Pro League for Goan football and his ISL debut for FC Goa in Part 1 of the interview. Here are the edited excerpts:
Pereira joined FC Goa after playing in the Goa Pro League
Sanson Pereira started his playing career in Salgaocar at the U14 level before making it to the U18 side and eventually signing up for the Goa Pro League.
''I took a short break for my board exams before for the U18 team. Everyone at the club has really helped me become the player I am, so I am grateful for all the experience.''
The Goa Pro League served as a stepping stone for every Goan footballer before making it to the top of Indian football, and Sanson Pereira is no different.
''If you are a kid starting off in Goa, that’s the league you dream of playing in first. I have been extremely fortunate to be a part of it all. The Goa Pro League is part of our football culture. It gives everyone a chance to play against the best in Goa and the standard of the competition is really high.''
Pereira made the jump from the Goa Pro League to the ISL bypassing the I-League, and has managed to break into the first team as well. He said that the ISL is faster and more intense compared to the Goa Pro League.
''The ISL was really fast as compared to the Goa Pro League. The league is filled with quality foreign players, which you don’t get to see in the Goa Pro League. The training, the intensity of the drills, the infrastructure available to the players all goes up in the ISL. It takes time to adjust, but thankfully I was surrounded by really nice people, coaches and teammates who helped me get the best out of myself.''
Several young Indian players who have put pen to paper on multi-crore deals for the big ISL clubs, choosing money in lieu of regular game time. FC Goa's Pereira believes finances play a great role in the sport and cannot always be overlooked.
''The decisions are not that easy when your family is not doing that great financially.''
FC Goa were the better team in the semi-finals: Sanson Pereira
Pereira managed to get 4 games under the belt for FC Goa in his debut ISL season and was impressed with himself.
''It was a great learning experience. I think I learnt a lot this season. I feel I had a good season but would have liked to play more. I will take that as motivation going into the offseason.''
FC Goa were knocked out of the ISL 2020-21 in a penalty shoot-out by eventual cup winners Mumbai City FC after a 1-1 draw post the two legs of the semi-final, and Pereira expressed his dejection with the setback during the interview.
''It was of course, sad. We (FC Goa) were clearly the better team over the two matches. It just taught me that being better is sometimes not enough in football. We had to take our chances that we created in the second leg. By the end of the competition, I feel we were playing the best football in the league.''
Sanso Pereira talks about his AFC Champions League experience with FC Goa and much more in Part 2 of the exclusive interview with Sportskeeda. Stay tuned.