ISL 2020-21: "I have always wanted to play for FC Goa," says Alexander Jesuraj

Alexander Romario Jesuraj at Chennai City FC.
Alexander Romario Jesuraj at Chennai City FC.

Indian Super League (ISL) side FC Goa have signed several emerging young players as depth and diversity in the squad are of utmost importance in the upcoming edition. I-League 2019-20 winner Alexander Romario Jesuraj joins FC Goa after the end of his loan spell at Mohun Bagan AC.

The right central midfielder talked exclusively to Sportskeeda about his playing journey, the role of Chennai City FC, the experience at Mohun Bagan, pre-season in FC Goa and his ambitions in the upcoming season.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. Tell us about your early playing days right from school. How did you break into the Arrows FC in the Chennai Senior Division?

The backbone of my football journey is my uncle. He wanted to make me a football player and he trained and groomed me according to it. During my early days, the senior players of Dindigul district and the members of the Dindigul Association including the secretary played a huge role in my career.

After that I was sent to the MCC school in Chennai, and the physical director played a crucial role. The MCC College and the Chennai League created the base for my professional career.

Q. How did you get scouted by Chennai City FC?

I signed for Chennai City FC in 2017. It was after my performances for Arrows FC. That proved to be a real game-changer.

Q. What has been the role of Chennai City FC in molding you as a player?

I will forever be grateful to them. The whole credit during my Chennai City days goes to the owner, Rohit Ramesh. At that time, there were many talented football players from Tamil Nadu but there were no proper platforms for them. It is Rohit sir who created the platform for us local players by forming this I-League team.

Akbar (Nawas) coach joined the team during the end of my first season and it was when we played the Chennai League. From that time itself, he used to tell what were our positives and where we lacked. He created the team for the next season and the best quality about him is that after the practice sessions he used to call each and every player individually and tell our mistakes and what to do to overcome them.

Akbar (Nawas) coach actually created the atmosphere for us and he is the sole reason for the team bonding that winning season, and I would say we could win the title that year because of the atmosphere that he had created for us.

His techniques are really good and he will encourage everyone individually and push us forward to do our best. Also, I learnt a lot in CCFC from the Spanish players, they were very friendly with us. They taught us and helped us to perform better.

Alexander Jesuraj signing for FC Goa
Alexander Jesuraj signing for FC Goa

Q. What do you think made FC Goa scout you and why did you choose the Gaurs?

I always wanted to play for FC Goa if I played in ISL. Even my uncle used to tell me that I should definitely play for this club in my professional career. So when I first heard that I am going to sign for FC Goa, my happiness knew no bounds. I felt very happy.

Q. Tell us your opinion on the pressure to play in Kolkata by taking a cue from your stint at Mohun Bagan in the I-League 2019-20.

Playing for Mohun Bagan was a great experience in my life as I already mentioned. That was the first time I stepped out of my comfort zone. It really helped a lot to be a better person as well as a player. Most of the pressure comes because of the fans as they are so passionate about the team and the game. And I sure learnt how to deal with it.

Q. How has been the experience in Goa so far? Tell us about your training both during and after the mandatory quarantine.

Pre-season is going great so far and the outdoor training is a highly intense one. It’s more than what I had experienced before. But now I have got used to it and I am loving each and everything about the training process. I am looking forward to making the best out of it.

Alexander Jesuraj during a training session for FC Goa
Alexander Jesuraj during a training session for FC Goa

Q. FC Goa will become the first team from India to play in the AFC Champions League group stage. How do you look at it as a young player of the club?

Exciting would be a good word to describe it. We are going to compete at a level no Indian club has ever competed in. Knowing the competition and the calibre of teams and players involved, it is going to be a real task on hand. We, however, believe in our abilities and know that the whole of India will be watching. These are the kind of moments or games you dream of playing growing up.

Q. There are some great foreigners and experienced Indian players upfront for FC Goa. What do you think about your chances of breaking into the first team at your favoured position?

I don’t take anything for granted. That has been the attitude that has helped me reach here and that’s not something I am looking to change. There is a lot of competition for a place in the first XI, but I never expected anything less than that. This just makes the challenge even more enjoyable.

Q. How different do you think would be this season in terms of player fitness and movement restrictions?

The pre-season is, of course, a lot different than what we are used to. However, what really has struck me has been the professionalism of the club, because of which I will say that I am really in as good a shape as ever. I trained regularly during the lockdown as per the plan provided and this pre-season is the most intense one I have been involved in. It really is preparing all of us for the toil ahead, but I am really enjoying it.

Q. What are your objectives as an individual player and a part of the club in the upcoming season?

Football is a team sport and all goals that I have are attached to the team doing well. Individually, all I want to do is give my all and be there to help the team achieve its goals.

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Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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