Luis Machado has been one of the most important players for NorthEast United FC this season. He has been instrumental in their remarkable unbeaten run-through to the playoffs before losing out to ATK Mohun Bagan FC. We got together with the flying Portuguese winger in an interview. Read his thoughts below –
You’ve had 7 goals and 2 assists in your first season. How do you rate this season for NEUFC? Are you personally happy with what you have contributed to the team this season?
“I am very happy with my first time in India. I came with the aim of showing my talent and I think I managed to do that”.
The pandemic has obviously brought all of our lives to a standstill. Fortunately for all of us football has been allowed to continue albeit without fans. As a professional footballer how much have you missed fans in the stadium? Do they have an impact on what happens on the field?
“Of course, there is a huge impact on not having fans in the stadium. I think football lives off the fans, and this is very important for us on the field. It was that aspect where I felt negative this time”
Khalid Jamil was appointed head coach after Gerard Nus left. He has since led NEUFC to the playoffs this season. As a player, do you see or feel any difference in the coaching style of these 2 coaches? What sets Khalid Jamil apart?
“Khalid had a great deal of merit in reaching the playoffs, but we must not forget that Gerard Nus was the one who created this fantastic team to have succeeded this season”.
As a foreign player in the ISL for the first time, what are the challenges that you have had to face in acclimatizing to Indian football?
“At the beginning it was very complicated to adapt to the climate of India, but with the passing of training and games it started to get easier”.
How hard has it been being in the bio-bubble for so many months?
“It is very difficult. Despite having the support of my girlfriend, it is always difficult to be in a bubble 5/6 months”.
We’ve seen the rise of many Indian youngsters this season. Is there anybody who has caught your eye?
“I had a different view of Indian football, but when I arrived and started training and playing, I realized that there was a lot more quality in the league”.
Now that you’ve played one full season in India, what differences do you find between Indian and European football? Do you think that one day Indian football can reach European footballs heights?
“Yes, it can, although ISL in itself is a competitive league. In Europe the teams are more tactical, the games are not as open as in ISL. But I believe that there may be young Indian players who can have opportunities in Europe”.
Khalid Jamil turned around fortunes for NEUFC where you went on an unbeaten run up until the semifinal second leg. What has been the message from the coach during this remarkable run of games?
“To have respect for our daily work and put all our talent on the field”.
Being in the bio-bubble for so many months, you have obviously spent a lot of time with your teammates and got to know to them better. Does this increase the camaraderie and spirit within the team? Can this also have an impact on the field?
“This was one of the most positive aspects of being in a bubble. I got to learn more about the culture of a country and the championship. It also created a positive spirit within the group, which is what brings victories within the field”.
Do you want to give any message to the beloved fans who have supported NEUFC throughout the season and will be supporting for years to come?
“Thank you for all the support during the season. Even away from the team, they always supported with messages and even videos, which made us feel that they were always by our side”.
Luis Machado has had a prolific first campaign with NEUFC. He has proved his ability with goals and assists and his overall game play. Indian football fans would be hoping to see more of the Portuguese winger in the next season.