There is a spring in the step of all those connected to Aizawl FC in the most intricate of ways and the Western Indian Football Association's (WIFA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Henry Menezes is no different.
The football club from the otherwise placid capital of Mizoram had the entire northeast of India, i.e. the seven sisters, dancing in fervour as they catapulated themselves to the I-League title, fending off challenges from close, celebrated rivals Mohun Bagan, to lasso in the coveted trophy into Red palms.
A man who'd been feeding off the energy and enthusiasm from his troops all season long is none other than Khalid Jamil, someone who's won his first title mastermined from the dug-out. The former India international's abilities - determination, adaptability and composedness - were lauded by his friend and confidant Menezes, who was speaking to Goal, is proud as anyone else on Jamil's achivement.
"We had kept him as the captain of the team (Mumbai FC) as our objective was to keep him with the team and to help him grow with the team as a coach. That was due to his ability and attitude he possessed to lead the team. He was one of the most brilliant creative players in the midfield with a good vision to score and create goals," began the former Indian international goalkeeper, before adding on Jamil, "That had taken him forward but a few injuries hampered his career. He has had ups and downs as a player also. In a couple of years he took up the U-19 team which was when he was forecasted as the next coach (of the senior team)."
Quizzed if he was surprise that Jamil won the I-League with another club after several years of survival battle with Mumbai FC, the 53 year-old stated, "Whenever you have some failures or rejections, you always grow. I'm sure Khalid is a changed person now. After he left Mumbai FC, I requested him to be in the game and offered him the Maharashtrian state team, but his offer from Aizawl came in and he took permission to leave.
"From there started the story. It was an important turn in his life. Everybody goes through it and he has come out very strong."
Elucidating his thoughts on the 40 year-old's I-League winning season with Aizawl FC, the Shiv Chhatrapati Excellence in Sports Awardee, calibrated, "The team always needs a blend of experienced players, youngsters, couple of good foreigners and a good coach. So the combination was perfect and I feel that he had the right pulse of the team. Adding to that, Mizoram football has grown in stature because of the strong local league they conduct from which players are acustomed to play a very high quality game. The government support which they have is also immense.
"It's very important to bring in that kind of a culture because once you have the backing of the crowd and you start winning, people start identifying themselves with the team and there is more power in the team that grows. I think Aizawl are a fantastic example of how when a team starts winning people identify themselves with a team," concluded Menezes.