Marcelinho Leite Pereira became an instant success in his maiden season in the Indian Super League (ISL) in 2016 when he was part of Delhi Dynamos.
The Brazilian forward had bagged the Golden Shoe award in the league scoring 10 goals in 15 appearances and had assisted five times.
Since then, he has been a regular in the ISL, plying his trade with FC Pune City for two years and Hyderabad FC for a year and has been amongst the top players in the league.
Last season, even though, Hyderabad finished at the bottom of the ISL table, the Brazilian still managed to score seven goals and provide two assists in 17 matches and was arguably the club’s best performer.
Marcelinho has now once again decided to rejoin his former employers. It has to be noted that Delhi Dynamos were rechristened as Odisha FC after the owners had decided to change their base last season.
The talismanic striker revealed that the new challenge in Odisha is what prompted him to jump ship this season.
“After a hard season with Hyderabad FC, the new team (Odisha FC) made me feel motivated. The club management and the coach (Stuart Baxter) showed a lot of interest in me and that is what prompted me to join the club,” Marcelinho told Goal.
The 2020-21 season will be the fifth consecutive season for the Brazilian in India and the forward suggested that he has seen Indian players grow massively in the past five years.
“Each season has been crucial for them (Indian players). We always see new faces and new talents. I am sure we will get to see more young stars this year.
“The Indian players are improving every year thanks to the way the ISL is organised and with experience from foreign players and coach, for the future, we will see Indian players moving and going to other countries,” the experienced player explained.
Former South African national team coach Stuart Baxter has taken over at Odisha FC as their manager this season and Marcelinho suggested that he is looking forward to working with such an experienced manager.
“I have a lot of expectations. I want to see how he will manage the Indian youngsters and foreign players, that's the balance that makes a team good. But I also know that he has experience in Asia as well as worldwide and he will successfully manage the team.
Marcelinho revealed that the affection he gets from the Indian fans convinced him to continue his stint in India for the fifth consecutive season.
“The love and affection from fans, respect developed from all the parties involved, staff, media and players make me feel beloved and continue my life in India. The organization and lifestyle are different from my country but it is a nice experience for me, I love it all.”
The ISL this season will be conducted in a centralised venue (Goa) without the presence of fans due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. The Brazilian suggested that while the lack of travelling will benefit the teams, the players will miss playing in front of the enthusiastic Indian fans.
“It will be something strange for me to play without the fans, to be honest. I hope for a better world after this season and a normal life. There will be an advantage of playing without any travelling but the disadvantage is that I will miss the fans screaming,” said the former Atletico Madrid ‘B’ striker.