Everyone who follows the Highlander Brigade knows about the #HiHighlander campaign that we have been carrying out to catch up with the current and former NorthEast united FC stars. On our third episode, we caught up with former NEUFC Left-back Keegan Pereira.
Keegan started his footballing journey by attending trials for various clubs. He eventually started his senior career with the famed Mahindra United under then coach Derrick Pereira who preferred him in the left-back position. Thus starting his illustrious journey as a defender. Later he went to play for a host of big clubs across India Including Mumbai FC, DSK Shivajians, Salgaocar FC, Mumbai City FC, Bengaluru FC, ATK etc before joining NorthEast United FC for the fifth edition of Indian Super League.
Picture source: ISL
When asked about his opinion about the two top tiers of Indian football till recently, I-league and ISL; and which among them is better, he said that ISL has witnessed some big names in world football gracing the league. But having seen big coaches like Ashley Westwood, Eelco Schattorie, et al. in the I league as well; both the leagues are equally good. A fan asked him about any structural changes he would want to suggest to improve the level of football in the country to which he responded by saying that "we need to develop our grassroots a little faster in our country."
Quizzed about the key aspects of being a left-back, he opined that one needs to be quick & agile and needs to have the understanding of the games to be able to read the next move of their opponents. Keegan said that one of Brazil's greatest left-backs, current Real Madrid star Marcelo is his favourite Left back in the world.
Upon being asked about his experience in NorthEast he recalls how everything clicked that season. He recalls how they celebrated the draw between Chennaiyn FC and Jamshedpur FC which led NEUFC to the Playoffs for the very first time (that video was pretty viral at that time).
We wondered having worked with so many coaches in his career who had a greater role in shaping him as a player, he acknowledged how from Derrick Pereira to Ashley Westwood to Eelco each coach had their own role to play in every stage along the way. He added that While Derrick Pereira gave him the first break, Khalid Jamil helped him in Mumbai FC, Ashley Westwood taught him to act like a professional player off-field as well and similarly every coach contributed in their own way throughout.
He appreciates how Highlander Brigade stuck with the team through difficult times, backing the team even when there weren't many spectators in the stadium, which gave the team a boost to do better.
He particularly mentioned the Lady Ultra banner that HB put up during the home leg of semis against BFC. He also fondly remembered the atmosphere in the stadium when NEUFC beat Kerala by two very late goals after being down by a goal till the 90th minute. Although he didn't get to see places around Northeast, he said he liked the weather in Guwahati.
Picture source: ISL
We asked him for his advice to the young footballers in the country. He stressed on the need to work hard, stating "your talent will take you to a place but your hard work will push you the extra mile."
A fan asked him about his diet plan and workout routine to stay fit. He informed that like most footballers he also follows a diet with fewer carbs more protein, vegetables and salads. Currently spending time with his family during the lockdown, Keegan normally goes to the ground nearby his home for a run and hits the gym for his workout.
Keegan confirmed that his contract with Kolkata giants East Bengal has been finalized recently. We wish him the very best for his future and hope he keeps on contributing to Indian football.
The Rapid Fire Round:
Favourite player in the world: Ronaldinho
Favourite Coach in the world: Ashley Westwood
Favourite club in the world: Liverpool
Best memory in NEUFC: His cross against FC goa that equalised the game for NEUFC; and Qualifying for the semifinals.
Best friend from NEUFC days: it was like a family, everyone was pretty close to everyone.
Favourite food: Devil's fry (his mom's favourite dish as well)
Favourite stadium in the world: Anfield
The Country He supports in the world cup(until India qualifies): Brazil
If he weren't a footballer what would he be: a chef
Watch the full video here: