Indian Player of the Season – Kerala Blasters FC

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This article is a part of our Indian Player of the Season (IPS) series, where we talk about the best Indian player from each club.

Wednesday is considered the happiest day of the week. At least Kerala Blasters fans will agree to this. For those raising their eyebrows, Wednesday is the day Blasters chose to announce their signings — a trend that has been followed since last season.

The announcement day is pretty much similar for all Blasters fans. Most of them start their day by checking fan groups of the club and involve in various discussions, usually predicting which player their team would announce. Even in their tight schedule, they find time to check the social media page of Kerala Blasters at regular intervals.

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The enthusiasm among fans peaks when the club announces the player. Some will run to the internet to search for more details about the player while some will be busy creating videos like player analysis. By the end of the day, social media will be flooded with messages, images and videos.

On 14th August 2019 (Another Wednesday), when Kerala Blasters announced Jessel Carneiro, the excitement among the fans was not up to the usual level. They have their reasons, as he was just another player who wasn’t playing top division football in his career back then. Most of them didn’t even expect him to be in the playing 11. Much to everyone’s surprise, he started in all the matches they played this season — the only player to do so.

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Jessel started in every match for Blasters this season.

With the season concluded, we can clearly say that there is no other player in the squad who deserves as much as Jessel to be the best Indian player for them this season. Fans can thank their assistant coach Ishfaq Ahmed for bringing such a wonderful talent to the squad.

Jessel is a potent addition to Kerala Blasters FC. He is surely going to be an asset to the team in defense”, these words of Ishfaq not only shows his confidence in Jessel but also indicates that he did his homework well before signing a player who last played in a state league.

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Jessel was fully conscious of the challenges he was going to face in the upcoming season. When he said fans can expect nothing more than 100%, he knew that he needed to convert his doubters to believers. He did succeed in that with his determination and dedication. It was not just fans who were impressed, he even impressed his coach during that process. “Initially, I was scared for his pace, his speed. But, the way he learned and picked up things, I looked at that and it was fantastic. His ability to pick up things was great”, these words from Eelco Schattorie have everything to know about the efforts Jessel put to be where he is now.

Jessel is more than just a traditional full back. He is a player capable of playing in multiple positions. During his Dempo days, he played in various positions— striker, winger and midfielder before being a defender. This certainly must have helped him to attain the excellent tactical awareness he possesses.

From giving assists to taking set pieces, he ticks most of the boxes of a complete footballer. He also impressed many with his off-the-ball moments, which clearly shows his excellent game reading ability. He knows when to move forward and when to sit back.

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Jessel key stats and heatmap

Jessel was an integral part of the KBFC attacking plans but that doesn’t compromise his defensive duties. He was like a machine that runs on the left flank. His 11 shots and 55 crosses, as well as 28 tackles and 78 clearances, speaks about the work rate he displayed on the pitch. He achieved all these numbers with zero error led to shot/goal — impressive for an attack-minded full back. 

All it took was one season for him to add his name to the ISL record book. With 5 assists, Jessel holds the record as the joint-highest assist provider as a defender in a single season.  More than the 5 assists, the way he provides those assists show his quality as a player.

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One fine example of this is his assist to Messi for the opening goal against Mumbai City FC. Jessel was at the right place to pick the ball that was deflected from the shot Jeakson took. With as many as 7 MCFC players in the box, he took his time for the perfect pass that crossed 5 MCFC players to find Messi in the box for a clinical finish. That moment of brilliance from Jessel revealed everything he possesses as a player.

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Match-32: Mumbai City FC vs Kerala Blasters FC
Credits- Indian Super League, Hotstar.

Jessel is an inspiration for many players who dream to play football at the highest level. A couple of years ago he had volunteered himself to play in the ISL for free and now after a successful season, he has been tracked by multiple ISL clubs for his signature. He just added value to the statement — hard work always pays off.

As per reports, Jessel has committed his future to Blasters by signing a 3 year deal. Fans had yet another season to forget, but they can be happy that they got a player who will fight for the badge and the fans.

Many were shocked to see Jessel’s exclusion from the national squad. With the efforts he put, he rightfully deserves a place in that squad. Jessel and fighting against destiny is not a new thing. In Kibu, Kerala Blasters have a coach who utilizes his full-backs well. By continuing the same work rate, Jessel can be better in the coming seasons and thereby open the doors to the national team. The future of Indian football is on hold due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, but Jessel is already in preparation to run up and down the left flank when the next season starts.

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