By Tanay Apte,
AIFF Media Team

NEW DELHI: Hero I-League new boys Rajasthan United have roped in Marcelo Leite Pereira, popularly referred to as Marcelinho for the forthcoming edition of the Hero I-League 2021-22. The Brazilian, who had taken the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) by storm since his arrival in 2016, hopes to have a similar impact on this new adventure. In an exclusive interview, Marcelinho spoke at length about his targets for the League, pressure on the field, signing for Rajasthan United, Indian Football’s growth and much more. EXCERPTS:

You have been playing football in India since 2016. What are the biggest changes you have seen in Indian football over the last 5 years?

I have seen many improvements with regards to the organization and the players. I am delighted to be a part of this growth. Indian Football is growing fast, and it needs support of all stakeholders.

What was it about the project at Rajasthan United that made you decide to join them?

I was very proud to accept their invitation to join the team. It’s a new team, and I want to set an example for the young players. At the same time, I want to enjoy my football with the team, and let all enjoy it too.

Rajasthan United has a young squad with many players playing in the Hero I-League for the first time. As a senior player, is there more responsibility on your shoulders?

There is always a responsibility when you step on the field. When I was young I always looked up to the experienced players to gain inspiration. I was desperate to show them my commitment as I nurtured a desire to improve every day. We need full commitment from everyone on the field.

What are the targets for the new Hero I-League season? For the team, and for you personally?

The target is always to be at the top. Every team takes the field to win, and the same stays with us. The target is always to be champions. Nothing else matters.

You are a marquee player in the League. Does that bring any extra pressure?

I enjoy pressure. That’s what spurs me on. I know I can transform this pressure into joy on the field.

How is life in a bubble?

There are definitely positives to take from the bio bubble. Recover is always fast post matches, as there is no travel. I see that as a huge positive. We need to help each other in this ongoing pandemic situation, and the experience carried forward from last year will definitely help.

What message do you want to give the Indian football fans?

Keep supporting Indian football. With your affection and love, I will be back with some magic.