From streets to the Hero ISL: The rise of Goan roadrunner Liston Colaco
The shores of Goa are not alien to nimble footed footballers. It has seen the likes of Menino Figueiredo in the past and now keep on producing talents like Liston Colaco for this present generation. Colaco has become a household name in the little state of Goa and now making the "City of Joy" more joyous with his dancing feet at ATK Mohun Bagan in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL)
Born in Davorlim, Colaco represented Salgaocar in the under age category, and then moved into FC Goa developmental team followed by his selection in the FC Goa main team. For the state, he represented the Goa Santosh trophy team.
"I started playing football very early in my village in the streets. My family was very supportive from the start. They really supported me through my bad times and good times. Football means like everything to me. I really enjoyed the sport. I am looking forward to doing it more at the highest level," stated Colaco, whose growth from streets to Salgoacar to Hero ISL is quite remarkable.
The winger has been the talking point around the Indian football ecosystem since his time at FC Goa. He later switched to Hyderabad FC and scored 4 goals for them. However, the real breakthrough came when ATK Mohun Bagan made a move for the Goan.
Hero ISL expert Khuri Irani vividly remembered this occasion and explained how it pans out, "Another shrewd business that ATK Mohun Bagan did is picked up Liston from Hyderabad FC at the right time. He broke into the national team, he broke into the scene of Indian football, and now Liston Colaco is a household name and where is he? ATK Mohun Bagan."
🗣️ "Liston tries to understand the concepts in football"— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) November 16, 2022
Words of admiration for scintillating @colaco_liston from @atkmohunbaganfc head coach @JuanFerrandoF & teammate @manvir_singh07! 😍
📹 Watch the full video: https://t.co/28MhzIvArV#HeroISL #LetsFootball #ListonColaco pic.twitter.com/cnTUiysmR3
"As soon as he wore the ATK Mohun Bagan shirt, he has been flying, scoring phenomenal goals, he scored some absolute belters from distance and just the confidence, that's the word with him," says Darren Caldeira as he too loves his worldly goals.
Fans crave for goals, and when players do it with some flair, they would become a hero in their hearts. Liston Colaco has become goal poacher with silky skills. "First thing you think about Liston is the flair, flamboyance, and brilliant goals, fantasy football. He scores utterly sensational goals at times, they do take the breath away," stated Hero ISL commentator John Helm.
While fans love goals, commentators love players with raw pace and technical ability. Liston, who got both of these, was appreciated by John Helm on many occasions during his commentary. “He has got that one priceless capacity that very few players have and that is speed. There is no replacement for pace and he goes beyond players who have no hope of catching him."
Liston Colaco was highly praised for his individual skills like dribbling, nutmegs, shooting, but over time he became a complete team player. In the ongoing Hero ISL 2022-23 season, the forward has notched one goal and has provided three assists so far, which turned out to be the vital moments for ATK Mohun Bagan. The teammates understand his role in the team ever so well now.
"His speed, his dribbling, and the way he creates space are his biggest strengths. He has what it takes to win, so he is very important for the team," said his partner in wings, Manvir Singh.
ATK Mohun Bagan coach Juan Ferrando observes that Liston's presence has a spillover effect in the team. The gaffer in numerous occasions utilised Colaco's attitude for his team's favour in this ongoing season. "His energy is amazing for the team, he is the battery for this team, it is very important and he never loses his smile. When Liston is smiling, the rest of teammates are also in the same mood"
"For me the most important thing for Liston is that he, more or less, tries to understand the concepts in football in attack and in defense, when is the moment to press and when is the moment to attack the free space, when is the time to close the teammates and to keep the ball. These are different points for Liston this season," added Juan Ferrando, who deserves a fair share of appreciation for making Liston Colaco as a player who he is, in these couple of years.
Colaco also understands the role of motivation in his performance and spells out how he gains from his teammates. "If you don't motivate yourself then you will not go on the field and perform well, and for me the motivation is seeing my teammates working hard in the training sessions. To see such a beautiful team we have in this, with such a beautiful squad, so obviously we have to win each and every game," the winger added.
He has achieved a lot in the couple of years from becoming the highest Indian goal scorer in the Hero ISL 2021-22 to winning the Football Players’ Association of India's (FPAI) Indian football player of the year 2022 award. However, the 24-year-old Indian national player is still hungry and wants to achieve more.
"There is always a target for me, first, I will think about my team like we need to win, and personally I need to score and contribute myself more as whenever they want to. That is my target," he concluded.