FC Goa's Brandon Fernandes feels that moving abroad at a very young age is critical to realising their dream of playing football in Europe.
Brandon himself is no stranger to overseas training stints. He had a chance to train at South African side ASD Cape Town's youth academy from 2010 to 2013 after impressing for the India U16 side. But he could not land a contract at a European club despite numerous trials and returned to India.
Comparing his own experience in Europe, Brandon feels that more youngsters must try to train at European standards from an early age in order to fulfill their dreams of playing abroad.
"As for my experience, if anybody wants to play in Europe, they need to train at their facilities and at their level. They need to start at a very young age. If they get around five years in their system, I'm sure any good Indian player can play in Europe.
"It was unfortunate for me. Even though I went there as a youngster, it didn't happen for me. If I had to go to Europe at the age of 15 or 16 and train in Europe, I think by now I would have been playing in Europe," he deduced.
Towards the end of 2012, Brandon had gone on a five-month trip to the United Kingdom where he had trials with Reading and Leicester City after impressing scouts during his time at ASD Cape Town academy in South Africa. His third attempt was a two-week outing at Sunderland in 2013 but he could not land a contract.
After his three-year contract with ASD Cape Town expired, Brandon returned to India and played a starring role at the 2014 Lusofonia Games where he won the gold medal with the Goa-India team. He kicked off his senior club career with then I-League Sporting Clube de Goa in 2014 and had his first stint in the Indian Super League (ISL) when he was picked by Mumbai City FC in the domestic players' draft in 2015.
Struggling for enough game time amid injuries, he embarked on a winter loan move to Mohun Bagan where he had a quiet season. The 25-year-old's career picked up after an inspiring 2016-17 I-League season with Churchill Brothers that opened the doors for his transfer to FC Goa.
The midfielder grabbed the limelight with impressive performances for FC Goa in the ISL in the last three seasons. Brandon refuses to set his European dream aside though.
"If an opportunity comes and if it's the right opportunity, I will definitely take it. I'm not keeping the European dream aside. It is in my mind but right now my focus is to play well, improve and work hard for my club and country," he insisted in a chat with Goal.