Francisco Bruto Da Costa, the new East Bengal assistant coach, is all set to be a part of the Indian Super League (ISL) again after the Kolkata giants roped in a new investor in Shree Cement Limited.
The club's entry into the ISL is nothing but a formality at this point and Francisco feels the development is a positive development on a whole for the Indian football ecosystem.
"East Bengal - the fans that they have, their history and achievements speak for themselves. For them, coming in the ISL, they deserve it. It is good for East Bengal and for the game," the 38-year-old told Goal.
"Credit to the East Bengal management for not giving up and finding an investor (Shree Cement Limited) during this [Coronavirus] pandemic. That is the best thing they could have done for everybody who has been associated with the club in the past and who is part of East Bengal now - from coaches, players and fans," he added.
The AFC Pro Licence holder has a vast array of experience - from leading Salgaocar FC and India junior teams to his assignment in the ISL when he assisted Nelo Vingada at NorthEast United (2016) and Kerala Blasters (2019). He also worked as an assistant coach under the Portuguese gaffer at the Malaysian national team (2017).
His coaching ambitions began from his stint as player-manager at Salcete FC which was in the aftermath of the ankle injury he suffered in 2002 when he was the captain of the Goa U-19 team.
He then had to make a hard choice between his goverment post as a Physical Education instructor at St. Francis Xavier's High School, Macasana, that would have guaranteed him a handsome pension after retirement and coaching the Goan U-16 contingent on a trip to Portugal.
"The GFA (Goa Football Association) was sending the Goa U-16 team to Portugal and I was not getting leave from the Diocesan Society of Education which is when I handed in my papers. The gamble that I took, my parents wholeheartedly supported me despite people laughing at me that time for leaving a government job. It was a risk that I took for the love for the game," Da Costa declared.
Nevertheless, that was not going to be the only hard choice Francisco had to make in his coaching career.
"When I was coaching Goa (age group teams), I was also a part of Salgaocar's youth system and that is when we had qualified for the Manchester United Premier Cup (MUPC) World Finals [in 2009]. That time, I was also the coach of India U-16. There was a conflict of interest because we had four important players who were part of Salgaocar's MUPC squad in the India U-16 team.
Surprisingly, Francisco went on to reveal that he chose Salgaocar over India U16 when it came down to a choice.
"India were preparing for the AFC qualifiers (2010 AFC U-16 Championship qualification). AIFF released the Salgaocar players exactly for the MUPC finals but I could not be released. I had to choose between India U-16 and Salgaocar and I went with Salgaocar because it (MUPC World Finals) was a good exposure for us and we had worked for it," he explained.
Once again, Francisco had to choose between Salgaocar and the India age group teams set up by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) under the guidance of then AIFF technical director Colm Toal. This time he ended up choosing the latter.
"When I came back, Colm wanted me on regular basis and finally I had to make up my mind again and this time, I took up the AIFF job. After that was the turning point in my career, when I joined NorthEast United under Nelo," Da Costa unfolded.
"From Malaysia, I got a call from Bangladesh (assistant cum fitness coach of Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra in the Bangladesh Premier League) when Nelo had taken a break and when he (Vingada) joined Kerala Blasters he called me to Kerala. What I am today, I will not be the same five years from now and I am not what I was a few years ago. Even one or two years of good experience helps you look at the game differently.
"That's why I still look up to both of them (Toal and Vingada) for guidance. I have been fortunate to be with these two great coaches," he also confirmed that Nelo encouraged his move to East Bengal.
"Vingada told me, 'Francisco, it's a good job' because he knows that this (East Bengal) experience will only help me down the line."
Now with the East Bengal's eminent entry in the ISL, Francisco has high hopes for the club to do well in its centenary year. "East Bengal should be the number one club, without a doubt. Every year, East Bengal have put in an effort and made good squads. They have always appointed very good coaches.
"I am happy to work under a foreigner (coach) because I am still learning. Being the head coach or being an assistant, I enjoy doing both, but assisting a good foreign coach is always a privileged because you cannot ignore their experience and achievements they bring in," he maintained.