After an encouraging Hero ISL 2020-21 season, Britto PM reveals India ambitions
Many rising stars of the beautiful game often give up their dreams of becoming professional footballers after suffering serious injuries. NorthEast United FC’s Britto PM, however, is not one to let go of his aspirations in the face of adversity. The 28-year-old, who featured in 11 games for the Highlanders in the 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL), recently shed light on his comeback from a serious knee injury and his journey to India’s premier football league in an interview with iftwc.com.
“I started my professional footballing career as early as the age of 16. I played for the U-18 I-League for Viva Kerala and Pune FC. But at Pune FC, I confronted a knee injury during the practice session, and I kept playing, which further aggravated the injury. I had to undergo two surgeries on the knee, which kept me away from the field for nearly three years.
“I’ve almost lost the golden period of my life, and when all hopes were gone, the Indian Navy came into my life. I joined the force and started playing for them, and there I unhurriedly regained form. I represented Indian Navy in National games, Durand Cup, and Santosh Trophy and won many trophies. From there, Churchill Brothers signed me. Then I joined Mohun Bagan AC, and currently, I’m on a two-year contract with NorthEast United FC. The Indian Navy gave me a second chance, and I’m always in debt to the force,” he said.
Finally in the Hero ISL, Britto played his part in NorthEast United FC’s run to the semi-finals under the tutelage of first Gerard Nus and then Khalid Jamil. It was only the second time that the Highlanders reached the semis in the Hero ISL. Britto believes that the absence of hyped signings worked for them big time. “What clicked for NorthEast United FC was the absence of hyped superstars in the team. Apart from Federico Gallego, there were no players of much fame in the group. This exact thing applies to the Indian players too and there was no space for ego on and off the field. Everyone helped, motivated, and urged each other and we worked as a single unit,” he said.
The striker also heaped praise on interim head coach Jamil, who took over the reins midway through the season from Nus. “Khalid coach was a real motivator. He was a great mentor who supported and backed us. We were instructed to play freely within our natural style, and it was indeed a pleasure playing under him,” he said.
Britto went on to insist that the arrival of striker Deshorn Brown from Bengaluru FC during the January transfer window really boosted their confidence in the attacking third. “Although we had a much-balanced team, we lacked in the striking department. Kwesi Appiah and Idrissa Sylla were good players but they were technically built and what we required was a speedster at the front. With the arrival of Brown, our final third became much more active,” he said.
Although currently on a two-year contract with the Highlanders, Britto has a strong desire to play for his home-state team in the Hero ISL, that is Kerala Blasters FC. “The Highlanders will always have a place in my heart, but like other Mallu players, it’s a dream to represent my home team Kerala Blasters FC. I hope one day I can don the yellow outfit,” he said.
With his professional career back on track, Britto’s next aim is to improve his performances and earn a call-up to the national team. “I want to upgrade my performance. I’ll play with all my might to assist and score goals and help my team win. My prime objective will be to showcase my talent to acquire a national call-up,” he said.