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The 34-year-old thanked Goal.com for his nomination while speaking on varied subjects relating to Churchill Brothers and Indian football...

EXCLUSIVE

Roberto Mendes da Silva, who is fondly known as 'Beto', was ecstatic after the news of him being named as "Goal.com's World Player of the Week" was broken to the Churchill Brothers SC player.

"It was like a surprise to be the first from India to be Goal.com's World Player of the Week," the attacking midfielder told Goal.com upon winning the accolade.

"Although it's a great accomplishment (to win it) in front of Cristiano Ronaldo and (Patrice) Evra, and all of them, it's hard to compare, because the level at which they play and everything else is different, but being named among them itself is a great achievement.

"Thank you, Goal.com for the nomination. I am very grateful. Thanks to God for this moment."

- Roberto Mendes da Silva

"Thank you, Goal.com for the nomination. I am very grateful. Thanks to God for this moment and I hope we (Churchill Brothers) can continue in the same way. I think this is one of the best moments of my career. Not only on the ground with the results, but outside the pitch also," he continued to heap praise on his team-mates.

"I want to share this with all the (Churchill Brothers) players because I believe that it's a team game. Whatever happens to me it is because of the players who are helping me on the ground."

The Brazilian further stressed that the focus of Churchill Brothers is to win the I-League for the second time, after the Goan outfit had claimed their debut league title in season 2008-09.

"The direction in which the team is working, I hope we can continue the same until we get the trophy. We have very good oppositions on top of the group and we have to maintain our lead. Right from our training to how we play on the ground, our motivation is to win the I-League," he said.

The driving force that continues...

Beto was a renowned name at Dempo SC, with whom he has collectively won the I-League and National Football League (NFL) four times and finished as semi-finalists in the 2008 AFC Cup. "I had been at Dempo for about six years and I was looking for a new challenge, and when I get into a new club, doing well at that club is my next challenge.

"Dempo has come close a few times. I have a dream to get an Asian championship with an Indian club," he added. "Things are working very well for me [at the moment] and I do not wish to stop here. It's an added kind of motivation for me and my team to perform better, and of course winning the I-League will be our (Churchill's) first target."

Speaking further on the level of success he enjoyed while playing in India, be if for Dempo or Churchill Brothers, Beto revealed that it is his knowledge of the football culture in the country that helped him excel.

"I have adjusted myself well in India. I call it my second home. I know the culture of football here. BFA (Brasil Futebol Academia) is doing well because [Jose Ramirez] Barreto and myself - we have been here for long and we know Indian football. We are very much attached to Indian football, so when it comes to deliver in the ground or outside, things are moving quite well because of our long term in India," the midfielder revealed.

Indian football is not lacking too far behind...

During Luis Figo's trip to India last year, Beto had told the Portuguese superstar that 'India can be Asia's top side'. The Churchill Brothers skipper also explained what Indian football needs until a proper structure falls in place.

"I believe in the beginning, we need players (foreigners) who can bring their experience here, and then we have Indian origin player, who are playing in foreign league, and have been brought up and trained abroad, it shows that India has got talent, because they have come up through the academies with hard work. So yes, I think India should bring in these foreignplayers until we have a proper structure of our own."

"It's good to have players like Akram Moghrabi and Bilal Najjarin who can give recognition to Indian football abroad," he exclaimed.

With Dempo letting go of the chance to take part in the AFC Cup, the slot was given to Churchill Brothers. However their Brazilian maestro stressed how the club will not let the continental tournament get in the way of domestic success.

"Churchill is moving with it's focus on the I-League trophy," Beto reiterated. "Our management is trying to make sure that the games (I-League and AFC Cup) are not clashing, so that the players have enough rest to switch over from one competition to another."

"Our mentality now it to focus only on the I-League, and not the AFC Cup as we have time to think about that. So we have to get as many points as we can so that when the AFC Cup comes we can be comfortable," the former Dempo SC player observed.

Not much has changed at Churchill

The veteran also took the opportunity to praise Bikramjit Singh, who has caught the eye of several clubs, with his displays in midfield for the Red Machines.

"Bikramjit Singh is one the best in India. He is one of the midfielders that I have not seen in India for a long time. He will be one of the players for Indian football in the next few years," Beto opined.

He also felt that it would be unfair to call Churchill's roster a "new" one, stressing on how the spine of the team is unchanged from last season.

"The team has been almost the same as last year's when we finished third. If you see our defense, we had Denzil (Franco), (Dharmaraj) Ravanan and Raju (Yumnam). Then we had Lenny (Rodrigues), myself, and Steven (Dias), so the team is almost the same. What we have changed is the goalkeeper (Sandip Nandy) and defender (Bilal Najjarin). Churchill is not a new team."

"The players who came in this year have added quality to the team. So that's why Churchill is strong this season," he signed off.

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