Hailing as the son of a fisherman from a remote seashore village called Pozhiyoor in Kerala to Northeast United FC via the Indian Navy Department team, the journey for Britto PM was not so steady. Tackling a career-ending injury at the age of 19, Britto has solidified himself as a sharp player for the highlanders in the previous edition of the Indian Super League through his hard work and perseverance. We caught up with the first ISL player from the Indian Navy and Defence force Britto PM to talk about his journey, his career until now, and what he plans to do ahead.
How do you rate the experience playing under Khalid Jamil? Do you think whether Indian coaches have the potential to coach at a higher level?
Khalid coach was a real motivator. He was a great mentor who supported and backed us. We were deemed to play freely within our natural game style, and it was indeed a pleasure playing under him. On the next part, Yes. Indian coaches have the potential, but it’s more significant for them to assist a foreign coach is progressing on the tactical side before heading towards the top division.
Northeast United FC showcased an outstanding performance last season. Can you share your experience on the plight of the play-offs?
The success mantra behind Northeast 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 implies with the Indian players, and there was no space for ego on and off the field among the players too. Everyone helped, motivated, and urge each other, and we teamed together as a single unit.
How do you rate the transition from Gerard Nus to Khalid Jamil. What magic did Khalid showcase to lift the team to the play-offs?
Gerard Nus was a good tactician. He was very systemic and disciplined in his approach. What he lacked was the goal conversion ratio at the front. Meanwhile, Khalid Jamil was a good mentor. He built from where Nus stopped. He allowed much freedom for the foreign players in the field, and that’s the secret behind defenders like Lambot scoring goals.
How did the arrival of Deshorn Brown boosted up the team morale in the second part of the league?
Although we had a much-balanced team, we lacked our play in the striking department. Appiah and 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, and changes started becoming much more conspicuous.
You were a late bloomer in football. After wooed against a career-ending injury, how did you made a comeback? How did the Indian Navy influence your life?
I started my professional footballing career as early as the age of 16. I played for the u18 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’ve 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 in my life, and when all hopes were waived, 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, Durant Cup, and Santhosh Trophy and won many trophies. From there, Churchill Brothers SC signed me. I joined Mohun Bagan, 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.
Being a department team player for the Indian Navy, you enjoy playing in ISL without any restrictions. Other department team players from your home state are bound to strict rules and are restricted from playing professional football. Do you think it’s time for a change in policies for them?
Yes sure. Indian Navy is very friendly in approach and allows their players to play anywhere they want, even if it’s I League 2nd division. But in Kerala, the thing is different. In department teams of SBI, KSEB, Kerala Police, Central Excise, etc., even players much more talented than me are stuck inside. The topmost level they could play is Kerala Premier League or Santhosh Trophy. Technically, they lack a proper platform to showcase their talent in front of the nation, and it’s time for a change. I expect authorities foresee proper consideration on this matter soon.
Being a striker, do you think that Indian strikers are forced to play as wingers to get more playing time?
Sadly it’s the truth. I first transitioned from a striker to a winger due to a lack of playing time while playing in Churchill Brothers SC, and here at Northeast United FC, I’m following the same. India’s most decorated striker Sunil Chhetri and current second-best striker Manvir Singh play mostly as wingers in their respective clubs. This scenario will surely affect the Indian Football team in the long run.
Amidst the pandemic, when the league was bound to closed doors, how do you rate the experience inside the bio-bubble? Tell us about the love and support of the Northeast fans.
Life was hard, but we spend time chitchatting with other co-players. It was a good experience. Sadly, we couldn’t enjoy the fans’ support in real, but they send us messages and wishes on social media after every match.
Other than Northeast United FC, which club do you like to play for?
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 could don the yellow outfit.
What are your personal goals for next season?
I want to upgrade my performance. I’ll play with all my might to assist and score goals to get my team to the winning ways. My prime objective will be to showcase my talent to acquire a National call-up.
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