Brandon Fernandes- A Premier League Reject
By Surya Solanki
It is no secret that when it comes to football, India fall into one of the worst quadrants of the globe.
Of course, in a cricket-mad nation, it is overwhelmingly unlikely that a ‘boring’ game as football will garner much attention of the public, although the population of India is more than that of Africa and South America combined.
Nonetheless, the lack of opportunities arisen due to the low popularity of the sport have not hindered the nation’s ability to, at times, produce astonishing talents who transform into one of the most intriguing exponents of their respective arts.
One such ‘talent’ is the mercurial teen sensation Brandon Fernandes.
Brandon is Goa-born 19-year-old versatile attacker whose meteoric rise to prominence has been remarkable over the past few weeks.
Brandon had been training at the Africa Soccer Development(ASD) over the past two years and his exploits with India’s youth teams earned him international recognition, with Premier League ‘minnows’ Reading offering a two-week-long trial to the budding star.
Brandon trained with the Reading’s developmental squad during his trial and provided two assists in the only game he represented the ‘Royals’.
After the trial had comprehended, several media outlets in the Indian subcontinent reported that Reading were impressed by the lad’s potential and work-ethics and were apparently preparing a mammoth $1million bid to lure the youngster to England.
“Reading have made an offer of $1million to sign Brandon Fernandes - a midfielder born in Goa. If the deal goes through it will mean the 19-year-old becomes the first Indian to sign for a Premier League club”.
The news stirred up a media-frenzy in India as it was for the first time that a domestic star had been called up to play for a streamline European team.
Sunil Chhetri might be plying trades at Sporting CP, but the 28-year-old is not donning the club’s famous green and white stripes for the first-team, for the reserve squad. Moreover, Chhetri’s once-potential move to Queen Park Rangers failed to materialize due to work permit and the Indian international was unable to meet the rigorous demands of overseas football when given a chance with States’ Kansas City.
Baichung Bhutia, on the other hand, only enjoyed limited opportunities playing outside the subcontinent and underwent unsuccessful trails at a trio of English clubs, namely, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Fulham.
Reading released an official statement on their site, clarifying that the club did not commence any talks about a potential transfer for Brandon as they were not to interested in signing him.
Reading’s Director of Football Nick Hammond said, “Brandon is a fantastic young man and fitted in exceptionally well while he was here.
“Him training with the group gave us a really good opportunity to assess him, and while we won’t be pursuing things at this stage, we’ll continue to monitor his progress.
“I would very much like to thank Mike Steptoe and everyone at ASD Cape Town for helping facilitate his visit, and we wish Brandon the very best of his luck.”
The news came as devastating blow to the Indian football fanatics, who have been craving to see a domestic star make waves in the European market.
However, the failed trial at Reading doesn’t quite represent a full-blow crisis, but only an opportunity for Brandon to further enhance his footballing attributes and live up to his brimming potential and expectations.
The Indian U-19 star is often regarded as the glaring light and saviour of Indian football.
The skills and trickery exhibited by Brandon on the football pitch are truly a delight to watch and his great field vision, coinciding with his tremendous ability to create goalscoring opportunities have made him one of the most exciting young prospects in Asia.
Brandon’s young age means that he will only showcase exponential growth in the coming future and one cannot forget the fact that the winger has also been undergoing a trial at Championship side Leicester City and a possible transfer to the ‘Foxes’ will not be quite a ‘step-down’ from a possible coup by Reading.
Leicester are a decent team for the development of players and will provide Brandon with the much-required experience and playing-time to flourish in the taxing and demanding world of English football.
After all, Brandon is a rare breed of footballer, one who has come up through the grassroots India and has yet has numerous achieved plaudits for his skills on the ball.
Phenoms like him are the ones who give India the hope to move ahead in the avenue of football and continue to try to procure amazing prodigies who could give an ideology and a goal to the directionless boat of the ‘beautiful game’ in the country.