Interview: Jose Barreto - "For me, Mohan Bagan jersey is the jersey of Brazil"

Barreto (right) scoring a goal against East Be...

Barreto (right) scoring a goal against East Bengal Club. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Partha Pratim Chandra

Kolkata, May 24, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) On 6th May Kolkata bid farewell to a football legend of Mohun Bagan, Jose Barreto; we will never see the Brazilian wearing the Green & Maroon jersey anymore.

The farewell created an emotional atmosphere as he is regarded as one of the greatest non-Indian players in Indian football (soccer) history. After the touching departure of the footballer, I visited him at his own flat. This report captures insights from Barreto on the day he left Mohan Bagan.

I avoided asking cliched questions like about his favorite goal or favorite food. I hope my readers find the conversation refreshing and different.

PPC: This much emotional burst around your retirement, how do you feel?

Barreto: God is great; I never thought so much people loved me, never thought all these will happen around my retirement, I saw people crying in the gallery it made me cry also…

PPC: Have you ever thought that in Mohunbagan you’re just another foreigner and hired footballer, and you shouldn’t get involved emotionally?

Barreto: who said professional does not get involved emotionally? And believe me I never thought that I’m a foreigner or someone outside this country, I always believed my Mohanbagan Jersey is just the jersey of my country, Brazil.

PPC: So what’s your plan, when you are going to be the Mohan Bagan coach?

Barreto: nothing is decided yet, first I’m going to Malaysia for a long vacation from 19th of this month, I want to play for 2 more years, may be for Bhavanipore Club, but about coaching I’m still not sure…

PPC: You have played under so many coaches, who do you think is the best?

Barreto: I’ve played under Subhas Bhowmik, Subrata Bhattacharya, Derek Perera, Karim Bencharifa, everyone has their own style of coaching, and I can’t point out someone from this list.

PPC: You have played for Indian Football for so many days, what do you think? What is our problem?

Barreto: We don’t have a problem of good footballers, we have them, but the main problem is the infrastructure. We don’t have good practice field, refereeing is horrible here; I’ve seen referees doing basic mistakes countless time. To boost our football in international level, we need an international level field and proper refereeing. For 13 years I’ve played in India, we could go to the world cup any day, if only the infrastructure is right.

PPC: Are you happy with your career? Have you ever thought that if you had been in any other country or in any other club you could’ve earned a lot more than you are earning now?

Barreto: no I never thought that, maybe I would have been a richer man if I’ve been to any other country or in any other club, but the love I got from Mohan Bagan and Kolkata, it’s priceless.

PPC: So you’re quite happy with your career?

Barreto: Yes of course. Write it down; whatever Barreto got from Mohunbagan, is overwhelming for him.

PPC: how do you think Indian Football will remember you?

Barreto: Just like a Professional Footballer who has given his 100%

PPC: And how will you remember Kolkata ?

Barreto: When I came to Kolkata in 1999, I never thought this city is going to be my greatest platform to show my skills, with every passing day I came to understand, this is the city I love, this is the city I’ve always wanted to be, Kolkata’s love for Football or Clubs, or Kolkata’s unquestionable emotional attachment to the game has moved me to the core.

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