Juan Mera Gonzalez was a popular figure among East Bengal fans in his debut season with the Kolkata giants last year. From the very first game, the Spaniard had managed to mesmerise the fans with his skills and wizardry with the ball.
The 26-year-old winger was one of the best performers of the club last season. He had bagged the Man of the Match award in the club’s very first I-League match against Real Kashmir FC where had provided the assist for Marcos De La Espada Jimenez’s equalising goal. He went on to score two goals in 16 appearances.
Gonzalez enjoyed his stint with the Red and Golds as much as the fans enjoyed watching him from the stands.
"It was the most beautiful experience I have had in my life, I do not regret having chosen East Bengal to play and be part of this wonderful family.
I am very grateful to the club for having trusted me and the fans who supported us in all the games of the season. The East Bengal experience is very special to me,” the Spaniard told Goal.
Gonzalez, who had appeared in a whopping 155 matches for Sporting Gijon ‘B’ side in the Spanish third division, suggested that he would love to come back to East Bengal another season if he gets the chance.
“I was very happy last season at the club. I would like to come back again. I felt the support of the fans all year long and that was very nice.”
Despite having a very good side, East Bengal’s performance was not up to the expectations as they had finished second when the season was halted before its completion, way below their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan who ended up being the champions of the league.
“I think that all the players gave everything till the end to be able to get the title of champions but we couldn't. I have had some very good companions. We gave everything in training and in games, but sometimes luck was not on our side. I take great friends from last year's locker room,” suggested Mera.
The former Celta Vigo ‘B’ player also shared his experience of playing the Kolkata Derby. East Bengal had lost the tie 2-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium and that result had virtually ended their hopes of bagging the I-League title.
“The derby was a very special match for me. We lost 2-1 but I think we didn't deserve to lose that game. The atmosphere in the field was incredible.”
East Bengal have secured investment from Shree Cement Limited and are now very close to taking part in the Indian Super League (ISL) in the upcoming season which is the top tier of Indian football.
Gonzalez expressed his delight on East Bengal’s imminent entry into the country’s top league and wished the club luck for the upcoming season.
“I think it's very good for East Bengal and for all the club fans that they will play in the ISL this season. I think East Bengal deserves to be among the best in India,” stated the Spaniard.