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Lawrence of Indian football

sports Updated: Jul 31, 2008 23:54 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni
Abhijeet Kulkarni
Hindustan Times
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When Climax Lawrence’s uncle named him Climax 29 years ago, he would have never thought that the kid would one day come up with something special to avoid an anti-climax.

On Wednesday, the midfielder came up with his first international goal in three years to save India the ignominy of dropping two points in their first match of the AFC Challenge Cup against minnows Afghanistan.

His last goal for India came against Bangladesh in the group stages of the 2005 SAFF Cup in Pakistan.

“I give credit for the goal to Bob Houghton,” says Lawrence. “Last time in Portugal, he told me that I should look for scoring opportunities. I have been working on that for quite sometime and the results came today.”

One could see the change during the inaugural I-league season itself when Lawrence scored a brace, his first strike for Dempo in over two years, against JCT to help his team win. He also scored a goal against Gouveia Select during India’s tour of Portugal last month.

With the clubs beginning to recruit foreign strikers, India’s current goalkeeping coach Marcus Pacheco, who was then the coach of Salgaocar, converted Lawrence into a midfielder in 2000 and the change in position proved to be the Goans trump card. Lawrence broke into the national side in 2002 under India’s foreign coach Stephen Constantine and has not missed a single game except when he was out for over six months due to an ankle injury in 2005.

Houghton also pointed at the midfielder’s ability to play games after games with the same intensity during the post match conference. “He is one of my favourite players since he gives his 100 per cent,” Houghton said.

The Navelim-born Lawrence credits his first coach Mickdom Rebello for all his success. “Micky began coaching me when I was 12 and he changed my approach towards football,” says the man who idolizes Spanish midfielder Xavi.

In fact, Lawrence has even decided to name his child as Rylan Xavi.