The former ATK midfielder suggested that he had played a substantial role in ATK winning their second ISL title in 2016…
Under Spanish manager Francisco Molina’s tutelage, the Kolkata club had clinched the title against Kerala Blasters in Kochi.
Four years down the line, the man who made it possible for ATK, still remembers his time with the club fondly. He also certified Molina as a unique coach.
During a chat with Goal, the Bengali midfielder was all praises for the current Spain national team’s technical director.
“I have never seen a coach like Jose Francisco Molina. I remember other than Shilton Paul every single player in the squad got game time. As Debjit (Majumder) was exceptional in goal, Shilton never got a chance. But other than him every single player got time.
“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,” said Raja.
The footballer also spoke about how Molina did not hesitate to rest the most important players of that team during the second leg of the play-offs clash against Mumbai City FC.
“I remember in the second leg semifinal 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.”
While the fans remember him as the player who had scored the winning goal, Jewel Raja suggested that his contribution to that team was not just limited to scoring the final penalty.
“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,” the former Mohun Bagan player opined.