When you play the first game of a football season, it is usually a happy affair. But when 21-year-old Clinton Mendes took the field for a MDFA Division One game on Tuesday, he was not very happy about it, not even when he dribbled past the goalkeeper to score a goal in his team Falcon Brothers’ 3-1 win over Naval Dockyard. After he found the net, he just looked up at the sky and continued playing as if nothing happened.
The reason behind his sadness? It was his last competitive football match in India as he will be migrating to the United Kingdom this Saturday. “I wish I didn’t have to go. I don’t want to, but I have no option as my family has already moved there,” he said.
Over the past three years, Mendes has been one of the top rink football players in the city. Riding on Mendes’ brilliance, his team won 12 city rink tournaments last year, Mendes being the player of the tournament in eight of them. His dribbling skills and ball control are second to none.
Mendes shot to fame in the local circles when he was chosen to represent the Mumbai U-19 team in 2012. “That stint with Mumbai taught me a lot,” he said. “I played as a defensive midfielder and it really helped me to understand when to hold the ball, and when to cross it.” After that, he had gone on to play for Kenkre FC and other top clubs in Mumbai.
Accolades aside, Anthony Rodrigues, a selector for Mumbai football feels that Mendes could easily make it into the playing XI of any elite division team in the city. “That boy plays hard and with all his heart. He should be playing at the highest level, but he chose to play in the first divison,” Rodrigues said.
“I hope someone recognises my talent and I get a chance to play with any club there,” the Manchester United fan said.