We Caught Up With Academy Graduate Leon Augustine Who Has Been Getting His Chances Off The Bench This Season And Intends Making Them Count…
How do you assess your performance and role in the season so far?
I am happy to have played a role off the bench in the matches. I was not expecting that. But I was preparing myself from the pre-season to be a part of the team and the squad. I have been part of all the matchday squads so far, whereas last season it was only three times. It was a personal goal for me to be a part of the matchday squad every game this season. I am very happy to work under Carles because he is giving me opportunities. He is very supportive of youngsters like me. He is giving me the responsibility of getting better game by game. He believes in me.
You get limited time to make an impact on a game. What goes through your mind when you are called off the bench?
Every time I come on in games, I aim to give an assist or score a goal. Like every footballer would want to, I want to make an impact. Every game I prepare myself for the match. What to do and how to be. It is not a big pressure but I see it as a huge responsibility. I have been telling my father about my targets, of getting into the squads and scoring goals. Last season I got assists, this season I want more assists and some goals. I think I will achieve those goals.
What kind of a challenge is it to break into the first team with the kind of names that occupy those slots?
Competing with India’s finest players like Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh in my position is not easy. It is a big challenge for me to become a better player. I have been giving my best in training sessions and giving them some competition. With every training session, I get better day by day. For me, it’s more about learning from experienced players. It is a pleasure and honour to be a part of this team and squad. I am learning a lot from them.
What do you feel you need to improve on and has it been tough to adapt to the first team?
Personally, I would like to have more shots on target. I have to hone my goal scoring abilities and take advantage of my game time. Even if it is only five minutes, I must show the coach what I can do. Right from the academies and reserve teams, we have similar tactics that the first team uses. It was easier to adapt that way.
How has your time been at the club, first in the Academy and now with the first team?
It is not like a team, we are like a family. We do miss our family but that’s part of this profession and I am happy to be with this team. We are doing what we love, so that’s good. I have spent three years with the Academy and reserves. In the fourth year I got promoted and this is my fifth year. This club gave me everything, made me who I am now. I have an emotional attachment with the club. The coaches also like me and I am learning every day.