Late bloomer Britto has is looking forward to the challenge of the Indian Super League next season…
At the start of the decade, Malayali striker Britto PM was at Pune FC and was the top scorer of the U-19 league. He had impressed the coaching staff and was set to earn a promotion to their senior team. His career seemed to be taking off. But it didn’t.
Britto suffered a bad injury that kept him out of professional football for multiple years. He has had to work his way back up to the top tier after the setback.
He started with Kerala-based Quartz SC and Eagles FC before earning a contract with Churchill Brothers and making a mark in the then top division. What changed Britto’s life, however, was a job in the Indian Navy in 2014 when all hopes of a return to professional football seemed lost.
“Getting a job in the Indian Navy was the turning point of my career. My career had a gap of three years due to injury and there was no professional football during that period for me. I wanted a job. Once I landed that job, I started getting chances to perform,” Britto, who has won the Santosh Trophy with the Services team, told Goal.
It was a dark ‘lockdown’ for the player, as he was forced to sit at home without football for months. “The lockdown now feels different. Back then, there was nothing I could do because I was injured, there was no football at all. The current lockdown is better because I am not injured. I am practicing outside, training to remain fit.”
After what was sort of a career reset for the player, a move to Mohun Bagan after his Churchill stint helped him realize his potential. His impressive show for the Red Machines was what prompted Mohun Bagan to sign him for 2018-19 season and in his maiden year at Kolkata, the Malayali winger won the Calcutta Football League (CFL) title. Last season, he won the title with 11 league appearances to his name.
Britto has already played in three states known for their love for football and at NorthEast, he will be alongside fellow Kerala-born striker Suhair VP. Imagine if Kerala had enough clubs to accommodate the region’s myriad talents.
“Kerala, Goa, Kolkata and NorthEast are the football-loving regions in India. I’m fortunate to have played in these regions. The Mohun Bagan days were energetic. They love football there.
“For sure there is a lack of opportunities in Kerala. There was a gap before Blasters and Gokulam were launched and Viva Kerala ceased to exist. A lot of careers were lost because there was no club to give chances to youngsters in Kerala.”
After his injury setback. he won the Santosh Trophy and I-League. Before he could move to the ISL, however, there was nearly another setback when Bagan and ATK merged to form a new entity in ATK Mohun Bagan, thereby putting the futures of a lot of footballers at risk.
While the formation of ATK-Mohun Bagan was considered a welcome move by many, there are some who consider that it has led to a lack of options for many players.
“The teams may be merging for reasons related to money but footballers are losing their chances. Only a few of us are getting another chance at another club, I don’t know what is going to happen to the others,” Britto opined.
The striker, who hails from Kerala’s capital city Thiruvananthapuram, has had enough with setbacks and is now determined to get back to the form that helped him become the top scorer in the youth league several years ago.
“I got injured at a young age. I could have achieved many of the things I achieved earlier. I’m a bit late but I am not ready to give up. I need to keep proving myself and move forward.
“The next stage for me is the ISL. I want to improve and want to do better.”
His career has taken a turn for the better.