Josu Currais: I still owe Kerala fans the Hero ISL trophy
Players come, they leave – that's how the cycle of football traditionally works. During the process, however, a select few carve out a special place in the hearts of fans, which lasts forever, even after they move on and Josu Currais fits the mould perfectly - just ask any Kerala Blasters FC fan.
A special connection
The journeyman Spaniard spent only two years in India before moving on to pastures anew but still managed to etch his name in every nook and corner of the football-crazy state of Kerala, and with good reason.
Not counting an unforgettable goal against NorthEast United FC on his Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) debut, watching the former La Masia cadet do his thing was like witnessing poetry unfold on the pitch. He was a fan-favourite from his first day in the yellow shirt but went on to become much more – a cult hero on and off the pitch. Kerala loves its beautiful game and Josu was their champion in the golden armour.
The journeyman's soul with Kerala in his heart…
But what about the player himself - does Josu still have the same affection Kerala does for him? After all, substantial time has passed since the Spaniard departed Indian shores. Despite being just 26, Josu embodies the ‘journeyman player’ spirit, having played professional football in six countries. Since leaving India, he has played for FC Cincinnati in USA, Extremadura and UE Llagostera in his home country Spain and is currently in the books of Finnish side FC Lahti.
Having played for almost a dozen clubs in half a dozen countries across the globe, is it really possible for a player to harbour special affection for a particular team?
The answer, it seems, is a resounding yes.
In a recent interview with indiansuperleague.com, Josu revealed how his time at Kerala left a lasting impression on him. "Playing for Kerala was the best experience in my life. We used to arrive at the stadium a good ninety minutes before matches and there's not a single day that I remember when the stands weren't full when we walked out. Hopefully, I can experience that again," he fondly reminisced.
Once a Blaster, always a Blaster
"From the very first match I played in the Kerala Blasters jersey, I developed a special connection with the fans. I feel blessed that they choose me as a fan-favourite player. They are my favourite fans as well. I still miss stepping onto the field with 60,000 fans cheering for us. I’m not sure if I can experience anything like that ever in my life," he added.
Anyone tempted to discount the Spaniard's affection as polite fluff, only needs to go through Josu's social media timeline to ascertain his sincerity. Despite being away from Kerala for years, the 26-year-old still takes time out from his busy schedule to publicly support Kerala on matchdays, even now."
Explaining his stand, the former Barcelona U18 player splashed a smile and said, "I still do that because I really love Kerala fans and I think they deserve the best."
Josu also went on to share a few words about his experience after leaving Kerala and in the process, made an emotional revelation. "I have been travelling around the world because of my profession and football. It has been a great experience, but my first option would always have been to stay with Kerala Blasters," he said.
He further substantiated his comments and revealed that he felt he still had unfinished business at Kerala. "I feel like I need to win the Hero ISL, especially for the Kerala Blasters fans. They have been very supportive of me. They have seen the team lose two finals. I think I still have something to give them," Josu declared.
For the uninitiated, during his final season in India, Josu played a crucial role in guiding Kerala to the final of the Hero ISL 2016 but was unfortunately suspended for the big occasion. Completing the tragic tale was Kerala's heart-wrenching loss to ATK in the finale after a dreaded penalty shootout. Josu ended up leaving the club after the season concluded but with a lingering sense of unadornment.
To be or not to be?
Given the circumstances of his departure, it's hard not to relate to Josu's longing for a proper closure to his time with Kerala - a team he truly adores and one which loves him right back. Will we ever see the Spaniard back in Yellow to realize the dream he shares with the millions of Kerala fans? We can only speculate as of now, but it's evident what Kerala fans would want.
As for Josu, when asked if he would be open to a move back to India, the Spaniard coyly said, "I'm hoping every day that I get the call."