Interview of Jose Barreto2-Sep, 2008
MMB: It has been almost 10 years since you first set your foot on Indian soil. How do you think Indian football and our very own Mohun Bagan has evolved over the years?
Barreto: Indian football has improved a lot. It has travelled a long path since I came. Now the whole setup is a lot more professional, the competition is tougher. Indian football has seen scaled quite a few heights over these years. My Club - Mohun Bagan has changed a lot too. The professional mindset is in and everybody is trying to improve themselves with each passing day. The brotherhood and togetherness which hold us together is the same as it was and all these make me love my club even more.
MMB: What do you feel about the overall standard of Indian football?
Barreto: Kolkata football was dominating when I first came in, now the situation has changed a little bit. With years Goa came out nicely, they have 4 to 5 teams in I league. Also there are teams from Mumbai. The clubs there have become much more professional than before but Punjab is struggling slightly though their infrastructure is very good. Physical structure, strength of Punjabi players are very good, weather there is good and suitable for good football. Punjab has all conditions to have good footballers.
MMB: We have seen that the last 9-10 years has seen the emergence of Goa & Mumbai clubs in National league, whilst the Kolkata giants have seen a decline in their supremacy at National stage. Having watched Indian football from close quarters, how would you reason this out?
Barreto: See, I feel most of the footballers believe or used to believe that their ultimate goal should be to play in one of the Kolkata clubs - Mohun Bagan or East Bengal. To them, the presence of the name Mohun Bagan or East Bengal would be their hallmark in their CV. Apart from the issue of pride, the Kolkata clubs were the ones who would pay the most. So there were a lot of issues which lured top footballers to this city.
The clubs from Goa & Mumbai are offering the same money and comfort than the Kolkata clubs and sometimes even more. They are also offering multiple year contracts and hence the players wish to opt for a much more financially secure and pressure free environment. Earlier, the top players used to play either for Mohun Bagan or for East Bengal. This scenario has drastically changed. From management point of view, I am very much satisfied with the proffesionalism of Mohun Bagan club management.
MMB: Barreto, many top footballers in India have failed to live up to their billing when they tried their luck at Kolkata clubs. Be it Venkatesh, Selwyn Fernandez or Climax Lawrence... Even Sunil Chettri found his true colors after he left Kolkata, why is this so?
Barreto: The pressure in Kolkata clubs is tremendous. Both on the field and the fan/media pressure off it. Here you get very few matches to prove yourself. If you cannot perform within 2 or at the most 3 matches, then you are out! The media is after you the fans are after you. The pressure becomes unbearable and hence many fizzle out. The new players need to get sufficient time to settle down properly. All of them are great footballers. Once they get their feet in, they will dazzle; but they need to be given time. Usually many players come for one year, get the feeling, finds the pressure tough to handle and goes back next year or after two seasons. Lot of expectation grows on them. I have seen Kolkata people more patient on local players than outstation players but saying this I like the spirit of Kolkata crowd. I really love the crowd here, especially Bagan crowd (laughing). I have hardly seen anything like this before anywhere else. It reminds me of Brazilian crowd.
MMB: You have seen many Bengali footballers from close circuits. Why are there so less Bengali footballers now? Why is it that players like Lalkamal Bhowmik and Ashim Biswas who started off with a lot of promise fails to sustain their initial flair?
Barreto: Always Mohun Bagan and East Bengal makes team based on good players from all over India. History says that a lot of famous players are from outside Kolkata, not many from Kolkata. So this trend was always there. About not being able to live up to expectation, this is quite a different problem as compared to the previous one. Here the players become easily complacent and get a laid back attitude. They know that there aren't too many players to replace them or even offer them competition. I guess this is one of the main reasons for them to fizzle out. There is no dearth of talent in Bengal.
MMB: How to solve this problem? On one hand we have players being unable to cope the pressure of having to perform constantly and on the other we have a set of players who tend to lay back a bit?
Barreto: This is all about the mental aspect of the game. They will have to change their perception of the game and harden themselves mentally. They will have to raise the bar, their level of expectation and satisfaction. A big contract in a big club should not satisfy them. Buying a stylish motorbike should not be the ultimate satisfaction. They should aim higher. They should also upgrade their standard of living, their food habits etc. Football should help them rise through life, from a small house to a big flat, from 'chapattis' and 'alu' to better food, from slippers to good shoes! One should constantly aim higher and motivate himself. Look at Baichung! Just look at where high ambition has taken him to! Players should aim higher and then only can they raise the standard of their game and should never be fully satisfied with themselves. There is always a scope to learn. Learning should not stop at anytime. Another important thing, scoring goal is not the only thing in this game. In many matches it has happened, I have scored a couple of goals but I was not satisfied with my performance while in other days I might have missed easy chances but I was satisfied with my performance as I did what I wanted to do in the game.
MMB: We believe there is lot to learn from you as a footballer, and more so as a person, the way you handle pressure situations, the way you stay calm and composed under crunch conditions, the way you always sport your smile even when the going gets toughest, it enthralls all. What is your secret behind this?
Barreto: My family in Brazil consisted of my parents, my brother, and my sister. However I wouldn't say that ours was a very close knit family. We had to set foot on our own at quite a young age. I left home at 15 years to capital to play. From 15 to 22, I developed my career at academy at Gremio. Gremio, as you all know is a very, very big name in Brazil. This academy changed me a lot. My mentality changed and my thinking changed. I had played under Luis Phillip Scolari, he was coach of senior team in academy when I was 18 years old. I started thinking big in academy but somehow during the years when I was developing as a footballer, at one point of time I lost myself. I started leading a very undisciplined life, i visited the pubs and discos quite regularly and i had also taken to heavy drinking. I started sinking and sank quite deep below. Now when a person starts to sink deep below in the sea and reaches the absolute bottom he finds nothing to cling on to, and at that point of time GOD (Jesus) became my savior. It is HE who extended his hand out and pulled me up to the surface. I experienced GOD at that point of time. HE came to me and helped me turn a new chapter in my life. It is HE who made me see what the right path is and made me realize my fortitude. I am forever grateful to HIM. It is He who taught me the values of life and told me that everyone is equal. I realized that there is something to learn from each and every person irrespective of where that person stands in his social life. I started treating everybody with equal dignity and respect. After that I became a changed man. I started viewing life in an entirely new way. HIS teachings helped me to tackle my problems very easily. Now I feel that it is my duty to live through his teachings and carry out whatever He taught me and wanted me to do. So every step I take is up to Him, and it's his instructions that I carry out. Then I got married and at 23 I got my first daughter. My daughter helped me to grow as a father, it was a big responsibility for me, I have to fight for them, I take my profession as a player very seriously. For me, this is my bread and butter and so I have to give more than 100% for this. I prepare myself mentally a lot about next match and think about the match. Usually I like to stay at home and spend my time with my family instead of going out, thus I get lot of time to prepare my mind in peace.
MMB: Hats off to you Barreto! Really, you are a person to be idolized! Then how did the India chapter, or rather the Mohun Bagan chapter start? When did you decide to bid good bye to Brazil and come to India.
Barreto: I played in Brazil and then before coming to Mohun Bagan, I was playing in Japan and then suddenly, one day, my friend came and told me - 'Do you want to go to India? God is giving you this chance! ' I said to myself â€“ if God is giving me this chance I have to take it! And here I am! I was quite young thenâ€¦ and had a lot of responsibilities tooâ€¦ I got married at 23â€¦ became a young father â€¦ but I knew how to take care of my responsibilities wellâ€¦ It didn't occur to me for once that the infrastructure or football facilities in India is quite different to the places where I spent my earlier life â€¦ I just knew that I have to give in my very best and that's what I did. The fans loved me and I loved the atmosphere at the club. It was just like a close knit family -my family. Every step forward for my club seemed to be a step forward for meâ€¦ and this feeling never ceasedâ€¦ It's still the same even today.
MMB: Having played under a lot of coaches, and having watched others from close quarters... whom would you label as a real good coach - both as a teacher and as well as a footballers friend?
Barreto: Well, there are quite a few good coaches whom I have seen and played under. I never had any problems with any coach ever. Karim is an exceptional good coach. I had no problems under Subrata Bhattacharya too. He was my first coach in India. I shared a good relation with him. Derek was a good friend too. I liked Carlos also.
However, I think foreign coaches are better because you will have new things to learn from them. From their experience, they will teach new methods of practice, new tactics etc. Their exposure to football is usually more.
MMB: A bad patch comes in every player's life, how to get over that?
Barreto: Yes, I also had bad patch in my life. Practice is the solution and the zeal to overcome this should come from within. Look at Baichung, the way he has improved as a player over the last two years is amazing. What I like about him is how he carries himself and the fact that he does not play with name only.
MMB: Have you any plans for coaching in future?
Barreto: Not decided on it yet, but yes I have plans for opening an academy in future, may be in 1-2 years. It will be in Goa with my good friend Beto.
MMB: What about team's performance this year?
Barreto: Our coach is very good, he has build up the team spirit very well. But our performance in Kolkata league was not consistent. The graph was up and down. Some match we played very well and next match our performance was poor. This should not be in I league. There the competition is tough and I sincerely hope we overcome all hurdle with help of our coach.
MMB: What is your favorite Indian food?
Barreto: Alu chapathi, puri. I like rosgulla very much and also custard and sweets. I also love fish curry.
MMB: We heard you are learning to speak Hindi? Is it true?
Barreto: Yes. "Main thora bol leta hu" (laughing).
MMB: What is your past time?
Barreto: I love to spend time at home. I love reading Bible and listen to gospel songs.
MMB: Where does your wife wants to go for outing?
Barreto: Of course, shopping (laughing).
MMB: Coming back to the current season, how would you rate our team â€“ a perfect blend of youth and experience or too many young players?
Barreto: We have a pretty good team. Our coach is very good. He has blended well junior players and senior players. We have very good team spirit. You can see many young guys performing so well, I have good rapport with all of them. This year team has come from behind in so many matches. I hope we perform well this year in I league. Mohun Bagan has not won I league for many years.
MMB: What do you like to say to your fans who look up to you as God of Mohun Bagan?
Barreto: (Laughing) I really do not know what to say. I am so grateful that fans love me so much. I am not promising anything but I would really like to win the I-league this year and bring happiness to their face. I know how much the fans love Mohun Bagan and I also know that they have a lot of expectation from me.
MMB: What are your plans of staying in India?
Barreto: I am not sure about this. I have not decided on this. All depends on my two little girl's education. I will decide on this later on.
- Anthony Pereira joins McDowell's Mohun Bagan... more
- Odafa's 3rd consecutive season in McDowell's Mohun Bagan... more
- Bank Account Details for Online Transfer... more
- Letter from Swapan Sadhan Bose... more
- An appeal letter from Honorary General Secretary Anjan Kumar Mitra... more
- Sandip Nandy signs one-year deal with McDowell Mohun Bagan... more