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Melroy Assisi changed the bandages on his forehead four times during the course of the encounter. (Image Credit: Rasik)
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Melroy Assisi leads Hyderya Sports FC to I-League 2nd division despite battling bleeding forehead

Melroy Assisi changed the bandages on his forehead four times during the course of the encounter. (Image Credit: Rasik)
Melroy Assisi changed the bandages on his forehead four times during the course of the encounter. (Image Credit: Rasik)

Football has been fortunate enough to witness heroes who stepped up to lead their respective teams to glory, despite the most intense of physical injuries. The image of Bastian Schweinsteiger continuing to battle it out despite being left bleeding right below his left eye in the 2014 World Cup final, presents some valuable inspiration to the strongest of men. Most recently, Lionel Messi showcased his grit and determination in the semi-final of Copa America 2021, continuing to spearhead Argentina’s challenge despite a bloody ankle. Emerging star Melroy Assisi has now joined the illustrious list, having showcased his valour while representing Hyderya Sports FC in a do-or-die encounter against Downtown Hero’s FC. The two sides were battling it out for the second spot in the league standings of the maiden edition of Professional Football League-2021.

The importance of finishing in the coveted spot was further amplified by the opportunity presented to battle it out in the I-League’s second division. Downtown Hero’s FC needed a win to finish second with a draw enough for their opponents. The former gave it their all indulging in aggressive gameplay aimed at intimidation. However, they were left thwarted by Assisi who delivered a performance for the ages, closing down on every challenge. The 22-year-old was left bleeding from his forehead during one of those face-offs, forcing the medical team to step in and apply a thick layer of bandages. Assisi was urged to leave the field due to the intensity with which blood was pouring out. However, the 22-year-old continued to battle it out, throwing caution to the wind. Assisi changed the bandages on his forehead four times during the course of the encounter, due to the blood pouring out. However, he continued to fight like a lion ensuring an all-important draw for Hyderya Sports FC, leaving the fans in a state of elation.

One has to showcase leadership and take responsibility on the pitch

Assisi maintained his composure till the very last second of the encounter, but fell unconscious soon after resulting in him being hospitalised. The footballer’s leadership and composure when it mattered the most reminds one of Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk, whose intensity has been hailed by one and all. However, Assisi refuses to draw any comparison to Dijk indicating his modesty.

“There can be no comparison between me and Virgil, despite my performance. He operates on a different level. One has to showcase leadership and take responsibility on the pitch, especially in the role of a defender. Confidence is key. If you do not back yourself with the ball at your feet, it will be supremely tough. Football is played physically as well as mentally. Watching players like Van Dijk does teach a lot. Fabinho is another fabulous player, who is comfortable operating as a central defensive midfielder and a CB just like the scenario in my case. In professional football, one has to be versatile enough to negotiate any role handed,” he says in an exclusive chat with Sportsjuana.

Yatish Shetty, one of Assisi’s coaches termed the footballer as a self-motivated and mentally strong man, which is rare for a player of his age. The 22-year-old however enjoys supreme clarity in this regard, in the face of immense competition.

“Need to be self-motivated as a lot of people want you to fail”

“One needs to be self-motivated as a lot of people want you to fail. You cannot rely on others for anything. If you want something, you have to work hard. Mental strength and confidence develop with quality experience. I have to stay confident even in case of a big mistake during the course of an encounter. It is important to work towards making amends rather than getting demotivated.”

Assisi started playing the game at a very young age, with the dream of becoming a top footballer. However, the journey has witnessed its fair share of struggle, which the footballer believes has hardened him mentally.

“The journey started at the age of 11 earning opportunities in district and state-level football during the first year itself. This was followed by selection in the state team, as well as opportunities in club football. I featured for Mumbai FC for a period of four years, having kicked off my career as a professional footballer at Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA). This was followed by a stint with the Union Bank of India. Good performances for the side as well as at the RFYS National Championships 2018-19 while representing Thakur College, earned a trial with the Chennaiyin FC B team.”

“While over a thousand players competed for a spot in the ISL franchise’s squad, I was one of those who clinched an opportunity emerging as a massive boost. CFC even named me as the captain of the reserve team, having been fortunate enough to lead Mumbai FC earlier. However, it has been tough from that point, with a stint at Ahmedabad-based club ARA FC scuppered having tested positive for COVID. Fortunes have been topsy turvy, with the opportunity at Hyderya Sports FC bringing its own set of challenges. Playing in the biting cold of Kashmir was supremely tough for a man like me who is used to the weather in Mumbai. However, I continue to surge forward drawing inspiration from the ‘Golden Ball’ award earned at the Reliance Foundation Youth Sports League in 2017.”

“The dream to reach greater heights remains consistent”

Despite all these challenges, Assisi remains confident about his talent and potential, having enjoyed constant support from his family.

“I am extremely versatile, with the ability to operate in any role defensively as well as in attack. As a central defensive midfielder, my gameplay is similar to Rowlin Borges who is defensively strong and composed with the ball at his feet. As a defender, it is similar to Chinglensana Singh who likes to feed the midfielders and wing-backs, rather than kick the ball up and lose possession. I prefer possession football, but am open to any style of gameplay. The dream to reach greater heights by playing the sport at the highest level remains consistent. There is no limit to one’s growth if you enjoy support from the family members, which I have been fortunate with regard to.”

On a concluding note, the footballer described himself as a jolly person off the field.

“I am pretty chilled and jolly off the field. Like to hang around with friends and relax a bit, as it helps in keeping my mind fresh and release the pressure. Always up for fooling around with teammates,” says Assisi with a grin.



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