NEW DELHI: Losing a key player during the crucial phase of a tournament can be frustrating for a coach, as Indian Arrows head coach Luis Norton de Matos is finding out.
Ahead of his young team’s crucial fixture against a mighty East Bengal in the I-League here on Tuesday, the 64-year-old Portuguese has been left without the services of a keen talent — 17-year-old goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh, who was adjudged man-of-the-match in Arrows’ 1-1 draw against Mohun Bagan.
The 17-year-old Dheeraj has quit Arrows to pursue his career in Europe and England, where he will soon be appearing for trials for professional clubs including Motherwell FC (Scottish Premiership), Charlton Athletic Club (League One in England), Blackburn Rovers and, possibly with the English Premier League side West Ham United.
Dheeraj’s decision not to extend his contract with Arrows and leave the I-League midway has left Matos disappointed and unimpressed. AIFF was offering a fresh three-year contract to Dheeraj, along with all other players who participated in the U-17 FIFA World Cup at home, but the Manipuri boy chose to explore foreign avenues.
Criticising Dheeraj for following advises of his “agents”, Matos said he is “perhaps not taking the right decision of his career” and that it would have been prudent on his part to play in the I-League to “gain more experience”.
“I don’t think Dheeraj is ready to play in Europe. There are often many people around the players — the agents, advisors who don’t know what is the best process for the development of a player. The best move for Dheeraj is to play in the league and then he should have taken the trials,” Matos said.
“After the I-League, he would have had the experience of playing 12-13 matches and that would have given him more confidence to take these trials. Now, it’s time for another goalkeeper to belong to the Arrows,” he added.
De Matos said that even if Dheeraj gets selected in the trials, he will have to wait till September, until he turns 18, to play for any club. According to Fifa rules, international transfers of under-18 players are not allowed unless their parents have moved to the same country in which the new club is associated. “This would mean he will have to wait 7-8 months without competition and only training,” he explained.
Speaking to TOI a couple of days back, Dheeraj’s agent Anuj Kichlu had justified the move. “It didn’t make sense for Dheeraj to be tied down by another contract for three years (by the AIFF). He wants to trial abroad and try his luck on foreign soil,” Kichlu had said. Source : timesofindia