Princeton Rebello is a name we need to look out for in the future. He has already started making appearances from the bench for FC Goa this season. And if he keeps his feet firmly grounded along with some good coaching, he is sure to make heads turn in the days to come.
He can truly be special.
A few years back when I was approached by FC Goa to take on the role of technical director at the club, what excited me was the club’s long-term plan. I have worked in some pretty neat football organisations but I was honestly blown away at the meticulous planning the club had.
The club had chalked out a vision and execution plan for the next 15 odd years.
However, they needed someone to put the plan into work. That’s where I came in. It was a great privilege, but also a huge responsibility. If we could get this right, the future of both Goan and Indian football would be a bright one.
One of the most exciting parts of the project was the creation of the youth teams with the Developmental Team being a prime focus for the club. With that in mind, we set about scouting players from all over the state and even beyond.
We had heard about Princeton Rebello’s exploits from his days with the India U19 squad. His clips further showed that this was a special youngster who needed some good coaching and exposure to take him to the next level.
He was plying his trade for Vasco at that point in time. We observed a few games from the stands and were immediately impressed by what this youngster brought to the plate.
We saw his contract situation and knew we had to pay a transfer fee to integrate him to our setup. But that decision was a no-brainer.
Over the last three years he has vindicated our decision and faith. He has lived up to all the expectations that we had on him and even more.
Upon seeing him play for the Developmental Team, Sergio Lobera was adamant that he needed to practice with the first team whilst playing in the Goa Pro League with the Dev Team.
His immense talent caught the eyes of all in a season that saw him going out on loan to Indian Arrows – where he got some vital exposure in the I-League. He has certainly grown every season and last year, we really started having a glimpse as to the true potential that this kid has.
He has a very level head and a real desire to make it to the next level. That’s something you can’t teach. Technically, he has shown time and again that he is not wet behind his ears.
He not only has the eye for that killer ball, but also the sense to keep possession when necessary. He thinks on his feet and knows when to slow the tempo of the game or when to accelerate it. With more games, he is sure to get better.
A keen learner, what stood out with him last season was his consistency. Another aspect that really shone through was his ability to stand up to the occasion – especially against the big teams like Churchill Brothers, Dempo and Salgaocar.
The league had gone down to the final game of the season when we squared off against Dempo at Ella. It was a big occasion, but Princeton was unfazed. He helped control the midfield and get us a comfortable win and ultimately, the championship.
The emphasis on the last paragraph should be on the word ‘help’. This kid has tremendous potential, but he shines the brightest because he helps others around him play better – he is a team player who knows that at the end of the day, it is the win that matters.
What I and we as a team have to keep reminding him is that he still has a long way to go. He has to be more physically asserting – something that he is really working hard on. The best thing is his attitude.
I firmly believe that he will be able to carve out a regular spot in the first team within the next two years. He has the potential to be a mainstay in the national team, a real star.