24-year-old Francisco Salin's status on Whatsapp reads 'You've got to follow your passion. You've got to figure out what it is you love, who you really are, and have the courage to do that'. Well, his passion his football and his dream is to play for the national team.
He currently plays for Mumbai Customs and his skills light up the Elite Division of the Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA) League. He recently scored from a header to help Mumbai Customs beat Western Railways 1-0.
The striker rarely puts up motivational statuses. There's an inspiring story to it.
About 10 months ago, while representing the Maharashtra senior team in the quarterfinals of the Santosh Trophy in Kerala, Salin broke his shin bone in the right leg, courtesy a double-footed lunge by the opposition (Goa) goalie.
"It didn't crack with the tackle, but when I stood up, it cracked with the pressure of my bodyweight," he said.
Salin used to play as a left winger, and was one the most promising ones in Mumbai. He even captained the Maharashtra U-21 team when he was in the 14th standard. He represented Mumbai University for four years, winning several best player of the tournament and top scorer awards and was in tremendous form when he got injured.
"I was in the best form of my life when the injury happened. I remember seeing a national team scout before the game, and I just wanted to do what I was good at," says the skilful player.
"I recall the current CEO of Western India Football Association (WIFA), Henry Menezes, telling everyone that I would take Steven Dias' place in the national team. That was secretly my dream as Dias is my favourite player."
So how does one recover from a broken shin and get back to top-level action in just ten months? "It was a fight with myself. I had to keep motivating myself every day. I used to cycle, go to the gym and swim every day. There were times I would just give up and people would say that my career was finished, but thankfully my family, friends and the team supported me and that really gave me a lot of confidence. The fact that they believed in me when I didn't believe in myself, gave me the push to work harder."
The toughest part about his injury was "whenever I saw a ground, I just wanted to put on my footballing boots and play." And so to keep in touch with the game, five months after the injury when he could walk properly, he started coaching a team from Parel who played in the First Division of the MDFA League.
Coming back after the injury is always very emotional, but also scary. "My first tournament was the Republic Cup this year and when my team won it, I couldn't withhold my tears. That tournament made me realise that I still have it in me to perform at the highest level." Salin proved that he was back in style by winning the best player in the tournament.
Now, he still has the same dream he had when he started playing football as a nine-year-old kid. "I remember writing in my diary that one day I will represent my country. That dream will never fade. Though I may still lack complete fitness, I know that I will give it my best."