Jewel Raja reminisces about his Hero ISL winning journey in 2016
Not many players are fortunate enough to play in a final in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) and even fewer have the distinction of scoring the winning penalty in a shootout to help their team to the title. Jewel Raja is one such player after his penalty shootout heroics helped ATK FC win Hero ISL 2016. The midfielder recently reminisced about his league winning season and he was full of praise for the club’s head coach during that campaign Jose Molina.
“I have never seen a coach like Jose Francisco Molina. I remember every single player in the squad got game time. As Debjit (Majumder) was exceptional in goal, Shilton (Paul) never got a chance, but other than him every single player got time,” Jewel said in an interview with goal.com.
The Indian midfielder labeled Molina as a ‘unique manager’ and hailed his rotation policy. "He is a unique manager. To him, every single player is equal in the team. Other than a few players like skipper Borja Fernandes, goalkeeper Debjit Majumder and central defenders Henrique Sereno and Tiri, he made changes in every position. I remember all of us in that season had played seven to eight matches,” Jewel recalled.
A part of the Hero ISL since the inception of the league, Jewel began his time in the league with FC Goa. After making 14 appearances with ATK in the next two seasons, he last played for FC Pune City in Hero ISL 2017-18. Across four seasons, the 30-year-old played 28 matches, scoring once and had a strong passing accuracy of 77%.
As he recalled his time under the Spaniard, Jewel also lauded Molina’s tactical prowess. “I remember in the second leg semi-final against Mumbai City FC, Molina had made nine changes. Players like Helder Postiga, Sameegh Doutie and Iain Hume did not start in the second leg. After that, we were reduced to 10 men. At one point we even thought that we won’t make it to the final, but we went on to win the league,” he shared.
While discussing his title-winning penalty, Jewel seemed keen on shining the light on his overall contribution for the club that campaign. “Scoring the winning goal in the final was definitely memorable but you have to understand something that I did not just score that penalty in the shootout. I had played 120 minutes in the second leg play-offs game and then again played the full match in the final. So it wasn’t just about the goal. I had a lot of contribution in that team,” he said.