Every time Ritesh Perambra stepped onto the field in his Mumbai FC jersey, his younger brother Umesh's hopes of following his sibling's footsteps and making a mark at the top level increased manifold.
Umesh started playing football when he was 10 years old but it wasn't until his college days that he was able to make an impact and be noticed among the people of the Indian football fraternity.
A Reliance Foundation inter-college tournament brought out the best of footballer Umesh Perambra, whose match-winning displays caught the eye of the scouts of the All India Football Federation (AIFF). Weeks later, while watching TV in his room, he received a notification on his phone - a message from his friend letting him know that he has been selected by Stephen Constantine to attend the India U-23 national team camp ahead of the AFC U-23 qualifiers in 2017.
"The Reliance Foundation (RF) tournament is a big thing to happen in my life. We were champions of Mumbai in their tournament and from there, I got selected to Stephen Constantine's U-23 camp. RF was the best opportunity that I got," Umesh told Goal.
He reminisced, "I got a message from a friend. I saw my name (on the list of selected players) and was like, WTF! I was speechless. I can't even put it into words, it was that special. When I first entered the camp, it was so great. It was amazing."
Since then, his professional career kicked into life with the U-19 team of the now-defunct Mumbai Football Club and the centre-back who can also play as a right-back soon signed his first major senior team contract for Ozone FC which played in the I-League 2nd division.
"Football wasn't that hard when I played during college, I used to score goals. After signing for Mumbai, I found it hard and started working very hard. That's how I got into that team.
"The experience with Ozone was also very good. I was not a regular starter but I was working very hard. I played under David Booth. And the experience was very important for me, I learned a lot from there."
While several players were lucky enough to make a direct jump into the Indian Super League (ISL) from state leagues and the second division, Umesh was progressing one step at a time. Last season, the 23-year-old defender who considers Anas Edathodika as his football role model, plied his trade at Jamshedpur reserves and took part in the I-League 2nd division. Next season, he is very likely to be playing for Kerala Blasters.
"At Jamshedpur reserves, it was a young side so I was more experienced. The training sessions were good, I learned a lot. It was a good platform.
"I wish to play in the ISL next season. It is any footballer's dream to play in the ISL. There is a lot of difference between ISL and 2nd division. The facilities, the training, everything in ISL is excellent."