Clifford Miranda has earned himself the Dilip Sardesai Sports Excellence Award. In a career spanning 14 years, all dedicated to Goan club Dempo SC and Goa state, Clifford has bagged five I-League titles along with top honours in the Federation Cup, Santosh trophy and Goa Pro-League as well.
To cap it all, he has been a resounding success with the Indian national team as well, winning the South Asian Football Federation’s (SAFF) Championship and being part of the squad that has taken part in the Asian Cup as well being a triple Nehru Cup winner.
In an interview with the Navhind Times, Clifford reveals a lot more than his professional side - his goals, his inspirations and what it means to represent the country on the big stage.
On being asked how it felt to be conferred an award that stalwarts before him viz. Mahesh Gawli, Climax Lawrence and Samir Naik had been recipients of, Miranda humbly replied, “There’s no doubt that I am amongst a very proud company which involves Mahesh, Climax and Samir. They are big names in Indian football, leave alone Goan football.
“It obviously makes me feel very special to be part of a talented pool of recipients who have done the state and country proud with their respective achievements in sports and football in particular. And, what makes me all the more happy is the fact that my name stands next to the very best in Goan sports, who have gone on to lift the Dilip Sardesai award in sports excellence.”
Revealing the source of his inspiration as his father, Clifford acknowledges his contribution and dedicated the award to him, admitting, “Undoubtedly it will be my father. He’s the one who stood by me, motivated me since my childhood and ensured that I kept playing the sport and took a liking to it. He struggled a great deal to ensure that I reached where I am today.”
Clarifying his emotions on being asked whether the award was a surprise for him or whether he was expecting it, Clifford said, “When I had applied for the award, I had expectations that my achievements in football would see me through. Yes, there were other talented and highly competent sportspersons in fray and therefore the competition to win the award was going to be tough.
“But I had a feeling that my gold medal for India in the Nehru Cup would prove to be the clincher for me and therefore I had my fingers crossed, but I kept guessing it would come to me. Therefore, until you actually get it you have not made it through and when it actually arrived, I felt all the more satisfied and I am now relishing the moment.”
Clifford also highlighted the importance of awards of sportsmen as an acknowledgement of their sacrifice and dedication by stating, “Awards are important. They justify your talent, your commitment and dedication towards your chosen discipline. Awards do motivate you and push you harder to stay committed and focused. The bottom line is to give your best and enjoy what you do on the field. And, at the end of it if you get rewarded it sums up your effort.”
“Playing for the club and country is more or less the same. At the end of the day you are playing football and I enjoy playing for both. What matters to me is the quality that I put on offer in the field be it for Dempo or India. What matters to me is my commitment and dedication which is always a cent percent when I represent my country and Dempo,” enunciated Miranda on being asked how he strikes a balance between performances for club and country.
He reversed on a common theory that sportsmen often set goals for themselves by stating that it does not apply to him. “There are no goals as such. Once I started playing football for my club and the country as well, all that mattered to me was to keep playing as long as possible and give my 100 per cent. So as long as I am doing that and ensuring that my best comes out for whoever I represent, I shall continue playing the sport. Enjoying football is the key factor.”
“I have enjoyed playing for India and can only say that Indian football can only now move ahead as the AIFF is doing its best to ensure that. The national federation has been doing its best to assure that the national campers are getting the best of facilities, exposure tours and all the inputs that are necessary. Youth academies, youth development are the key areas where the AIFF is concentrating at the moment and so can be said about GFA as well,” were his concluding thoughts on being asked what his vision for Indian football was, as the interview wound to a close.
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