Jessel Carneiro: Wanted to show my loyalty to Kerala Blasters

Jessel Carneiro was one of Kerala Blasters FC’s brightest sparks in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20. Not only was Jessel one of their most consistent players with five assists to his name, he also played every minute for the Kochi-based club, amid an injury ridden campaign for Kerala’s defenders. The fullback recently signed a three-year contract extension with the Blasters and the defender saw this extension as an opportunity to show his loyalty to the club.

“I just wanted to be loyal to the club because they gave me an opportunity to play in the Hero ISL. When my agent called me with other offers, I told him, ‘you just tell me what Kerala Blasters offers me and then I'll make the decision.’ That’s how it went down,” Jessel said during the latest episode of Let’s Football Live.

Jessel began his Hero ISL career with Eelco Schattorie as Kerala’s head coach but will be playing the upcoming season under the tutelage of Kibu Vicuna. “When Kerala Blasters signed him (Vicuna), I just started watching Mohun Bagan matches to understand his game, how they play and what the wingers do. He likes to attack and also at the same time he likes to defend. So, I found it similar to what we were playing (in Kerala last season),” he opined when asked about his new head coach.

The marauding fullback then stressed the importance of adhering to the coach’s instructions. “It will be a great season for us. In the training, in the pre-season, the coach is the one who knows your strengths and weakness. On this basis, he gives you a job to do on the field. If he wants you to overlap, he just tells you. So, it is up to the coach, if he gives me a role to do on the pitch, I have to do it,” Jessel said.

Sahal Abdul Samad and Rahul KP have bright futures ahead

The 30-year-old went on to explain why he feels Kerala’s youngsters Sahal Abdul Samad and Rahul KP have a bright future ahead of them. “He (Sahal) is a very good player and he has a very bright future. He has a lot of talent. When I joined Kerala Blasters, I didn't have my Instagram account. So, when I opened an account, I said to myself, ‘who will follow me first’. After one day it was Sahal Abdul who followed me first. This guy is very humble and very sincere not only on the field but off the pitch also. He's very talented. I think he can be a very good player.”

On Rahul, Jessel added, “Rahul KP is a very good friend of mine. Whenever he gets time, he comes to Goa. During the training sessions, usually we sprint. He's very fast and very quick. In the game also he's very quick. Once when we were sprinting (during the training session), I just stood beside him and I found him quick enough to pass the defenders. This is very good for me also because you know how fast they are, and you have to cope with them.”

Bartholomew Ogbeche has all the qualities of a leader

Jessel also lauded Kerala’s clinical frontman Bartholomew Ogbeche, who was the joint top-scorer in Hero ISL 2019-20. The striker netted 15 times for the Blasters last season and the Indian fullback hailed the striker’s mentality and leadership qualities on the field.

“Ogbeche is a great person. He is a very good player... he will tell you your mistakes, what you should. Especially because he is very experienced. He has played mostly at the highest levels through his career. He has a suitcase that had a sticker which read ‘Defeat All Odds’, while the same sticker was inside his match kit. He has all the qualities of a leader,” Jessel said.

“On the field also he boosts the confidence of the players. If we concede a goal, he says ‘don’t be disappointed and put your head down. Just focus on the game and we will overcome this situation.’ He is a very good leader,” he added.

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