He is one of I-League’s most prolific strikers, and arguably one of the best foreign players to ever ply his trade on Indian soil. Ranti Martins, from Nigeria, moved to India after signing for Dempo from Ghana Premier League side King Fiasal Babes. He would go on to have a long and illustrious time with the Goan side, and would win many accolades with the team, including a record breaking 32 goals in a single season en route to picking up the 2011-12 title. Playing today for Shillong-based club Rangdajied United, Martins opens up to TOTAL FOOTBALL about being a footballer in India.
Q. What made you join Rangdajied United?
A. I was playing for United SC but was not very happy with my game there. I constantly felt that the team was not trying its best and thus I was not able to perform to the best of my abilities. More importantly, I saw no improvement in my game during my time there, something that I feel is crucial for my continuing passion for the game. Thus I decided to leave and as it so happened, Rangdajied United made a very interesting offer to me, so I decided to join them.
Q. How do you feel about playing for Rangdajied United, seeing as they are playing their debut season in the I-League?
A. Rangdajied United was a team which was fresh with new ideas. I had head a little about it – three or four players I had played with earlier were part of this squad. But whatever I heard excited me, so when they came calling, I was immediately interested in playing for them. And we know that in the I-League, surviving the first year and not getting relegated is the most difficult task of all, but we, the squad, have the belief that we can do it. From there on, things will only get better. We have only two games to go so we’re almost there!
Q. Scoring goals has never been a problem for you, and you have continued your form into your new squad. How do you do it?
A. I have always been blessed with having team mates who understand my game, who are able to feed me the ball well. Even in Rangdajied United, I have found similar-minded players, so I have been able to score regularly.
Q. What changes do you see since you first moved to India?
A. The changes have been many. The infrastructure is slowly becoming better, and as a direct result, the game is also become tighter. This transformation is still very slow, but was long overdue and has been welcomed by players across teams.
Q. What advice will you give a prospective footballer?
A. My advice would be this – education is the most important thing to being successful. Football is always secondary. That being said, kids today have facilities we never had, namely football academies which offer the best of education and football training. At the same time, if you have passion for the game, then you must work on it and never give up.