22-year-old Goa boy gets attack spot for top league football in Brazil
Romeo Fernandes has become the first Indian footballer to play professionally in Brazil, making his debut for top-flight club Atletico Paranaense on Saturday.sports Updated: May 05, 2015 01:02 IST
Romeo Fernandes has become the first Indian footballer to play professionally in Brazil, making his debut for top-flight club Atletico Paranaense on Saturday.
The 22-year-old midfielder, who took the field against Nacional PR in the 69th minute with his side leading 4-0, is on loan at Atletico from I-League club Dempo SC. He was recommended to the club by Brazilian great and FC Goa coach Zico, who was impressed with his showing in the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL).
Fernandes is also the first Indian outfield footballer to play for the first team in a top-tier league outside the continent. Before him, goalkeeper and former India under-22 teammate Gurpreet Singh Sandhu became the first Indian to play for a top-tier European club after making his debut for Norwegian team Stabek FC last month.
“Euphoric would be an understatement... For me, this opportunity is a godsend,” said Fernandes in an email to the media on Sunday.
Fernandes scored three goals with two assists in 11 appearances in the ISL, and went on to lift his side from the bottom of the table to the semi-finals. He is still uncapped for India though.
“Atletico was looking to develop a player from India. I suggested Romeo and Zico gave his approval,” said the youngster’s agent and former Dempo star Beto.