Legendary Goan Footballer Visits Kuwait
Kuwait: Ask football fans to name the best ever Indian midfielder, and chances are they will come up with the name Arnold Rodrigues, even if they are too young to have ever seen him play.
The name speaks volumes about the legend. Many considered Arnold one of India’s greatest ever midfield player.
The legendary footballer, a Salgaocar-Goa and India international star in the 70s and 80s, was on a personal visit to Kuwait along with his son Michael, on the weekend. The footballer having his roots in Goa lives with his wife Melissa and family in London since 1985 after he attained the British citizenship.
Arnold watched some of the ongoing Kuwait Indian Football Federation (KIFF) league matches played at Bayan Grounds.
“Goans and Keralites have always been dynamic footballers,” stated Arnold, “It is good to see the two communities shining and keeping the flame of Indian football vibrant this part of the world.”
GOLDEN WORDS OF AN ICON
In a tete-a-tete, the iconic figure shared some of his golden thoughts to develop Indian football, “We need to get everyone involved in the game, not just the players. Be passionate about it,” he said, “Get a fan-base growing all the way; fans who will be die-hard supporters of the team they support, fans who celebrate victories of their team as their own; and feel the pain of a defeat as their own loss.”
An ardent FC Goa and Liverpool fan, Arnold further expressed, “It is my dream to see some of our Indian footballers rise up to play in the English Premier League someday.”
A number of people – past friends, classmates and fans of Arnold were present to see the star. Arnold’s Salgaocar SC colleagues, Anthony Rebello and Sarto Baptista, former Salgaocar players, Avelino Dias and Gasper Crasto were among those present.
COMMENTS AND ETHICAL MOMENTS
Recalling their playing days, Anthony Rebello who fondly calls Arnold as ‘Inder Singh’ said, “Arnold had a ‘robotic mind’ and magnetic legs, the ball just stuck to his feet. More than anything else, he had a ‘devotional’ commitment towards football.”
“I feel proud to have played against the legend, Arnold was one of the best Goan footballer of all time – a magical player,” said Avelino Dias, a former Junior International, and Salgaocar goalkeeper.
“Arnold was a mesmerizing midfielder with tremendous ball control and stamina,” quoted Sarto adding, “It is difficult to see players of his caliber in Indian football nowadays.”
Soccer Kerala coach Biju Johny said, “It was an honor to meet such an iconic Indian legend and know so much about him.”
Another long-time Kerala footballer and organizer, Robert Bernard immediately whisked Arnold to be the chief guest for the Kerala District Football matches organized by Kerala Expats Football Association Kuwait (KEFAK). He later said, “Our community was delighted by Arnold’s historic past and his special presence at our tournament!”
The more popular Kuwait Indian Football Federation (KIFF), however, was never so thrilled to consider the legend’s visit to be of any significance. The federation, which is well-known for sponsoring star footballers from India as chief guests for their functions and distributes mementos in dozens to its members during events, showed ‘fille de joie’ ethics in welcoming the legendary star other than asking him to present a man-of-the-match award at one game.
ARNOLD AS HUMAN AND AS A PLAYER
Arnold played for Salgaocars Goa from 1974 and 1984, he was a ‘cunning midfielder’ and dazzled wherever he played.
One of the star players for Goa in Santosh Trophy tournaments, Arnold’s performance at the 1984 Madras Nationals where Goa won the championship, remains most notable while his representation in India colors was equally glorious.
Hailing from Orlim, Salcete, Goa, Arnold was born in Tanzania, the son of Augusto and Betty Rodrigues. He is working as a chief accountant for Oman Embassy in UK for the last 30 years.
An alumni of Monte de Guirim School in Bardez, and Damodar College, Margao, Arnold’s overwhelming debut as a ‘senior’ footballer had quickly resulted in finding himself a place in the Goa national team and a spot in the Indian squad.
The legendary star was a regular for Goa and the National team for almost 10 years. He left Indian Shores while he was still at his peak, his last stint being the Team India tour of Trinidad, Tobago, Barbados, Surinam and Guyana.
Speaking about his life over the years, the humble footballer states, “Life has been wonderful all through, however, memories of my football days back in India and my identity as a footballer surpasses all my triumphs and achievements.”
A BRIEF PROFILE OF ARNOLD RODRIGUES:
1971~1972 – Mapusa Youth
1972~1974 – Panvel SC (2 years)
1974~1984 – Salgaocar SC (10 years)
1984~1989 – Croydon FC (UK)
1995~2004 – Simba SC (Goan Club in UK)
SENIOR NATIONALS FOR GOA (SANTOSH TROPHY)
1975 – Calicut, Kerala
1976 – Patna, Bihar
1977 – Calcutta, West Bengal
1978 – Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir
1979 – Coimbatore, Kerala
1980 – Cuttack, Orissa
1981 – Trichur, Kerala
1983 – Calcutta, West Bengal
1984 – Madras, Tamil Nadu
1977 – Goodwill tour to Zambia.
1977 – Kings Cup, Bangkok
1983 – President Cup, Dhaka
1983 – Super Soccer, New Delhi
1984 – Goodwill tour to Trinidad, Tobago, Barbados, Surinam, Guyana.
Won two Gold medals for Best Midfielder of the Tournament and Best Player of the Santosh Trophy – 1984.
English FA Coach Level 1 & 2