Myron Mendes chronicles his journey from Goa to South Africa and back to India [Exclusive]
- The up-and-coming defender talks about his journey over the years and much more.
- He made his senior team debut for Bengaluru FC against Bhutan's Transport United in the 2018 AFC Cup Qualifiers.
Cricket remains the most followed sport in India. And like any other aspiring sportsperson, Myron Mendes too opted for the game of bat-and-ball in his childhood. But having been born and brought up in the football-crazy state of Goa, his parents insisted he tries his luck in the beautiful game.
Growing up in Curchorem in South Goa, Myron graduated from Guardian Angels High School and picked up football from there. The 23-year-old has since come up a long way.
He's represented the country in the prestigious U-16 AFC Championship and made his mark in one of the top football academies in South Africa. He then came back to the country and represented Bengaluru FC in the 2018 AFC qualifiers before the winning the Durand Cup with Gokulam Kerala.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, the youngster talks about his journey over the years and much more.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Question: Please take us through your journey as a budding footballer in Goa.
Mendes: School games really helped me evolve into a better footballer. I always gave my 100% in every practice session, training, or game. My coaches believed in me and thus, I was a regular in the starting line-up. Sometimes, I led the team. At other times, I helped them by attacking, defending, winning games by scoring some crucial goals, or doing anything and everything to contribute to the success of my team. I’ve played across all the positions in my school time. So, that made me a versatile player.
Question: You mentioned you did a bit of everything - attacking, defending, scoring goals. What is your favorite position?
Mendes: I prefer to operate as a central defensive midfielder. However, I’m flexible to help the team in any capacity I can. I’ve played across all positions besides goalkeeper during my time with Bengaluru FC and don’t mind taking the field across any position as long as I’m playing football and able to contribute to the success of my team.
Question: How was the experience of playing in the AFC U-16 Championship?
Mendes: I have been fortunate to have played in the AFC U-16 Championship. I remember we needed either a draw or win against China in our last game. Eventually, the game ended in a draw when I drew the scores level after scoring a penalty in the 92nd minute. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t in our favor as Syria beat Uzbekistan and the two teams qualified via goal difference. Above all, we were a very strong competitive side and showed other countries that India can play good football too.
Question: After the tournament, you joined the ASD Cape Town Academy, one of the top-most football academies in South Africa, for a year. How did that stint help you?
Mendes: The experience taught me a lot and evolved me into a better professional player. Brandon (Fernandes) was the first player from Asia to be selected by the prestigious Cape United Soccer School of Excellence and played for the senior team in his third year there. I was playing U-19 in my first year and thus, was the youngest graduate to ever be named in the senior ASD team.
Question: You made your senior team debut for Bengaluru FC against Bhutan's Transport United in the 2018 AFC Cup Qualifiers. Take us through that experience.
Mendes: I was under pressure as it was my first game in Asian football. But playing alongside top professionals helped in keeping me calm and composed to make the right moves and decisions. I enjoyed the thrill and buzz it got me. I am grateful to coach Albert Roca for believing in me and allowing me to experience this moment, which will always be close to my heart.
Question: After winning the Durand Cup with Gokulam Kerala, what's next on the agenda?
Mendes: Currently, I’m focused on staying fit and looking forward to an enjoyable experience playing regular football. Hopefully, I will be able to make it to the Indian senior team on merit.Published 22 Mar 2020, 13:34 IST