PANAJI r rHaving inked a one-year contract with FC Goa as the goalkeeper coach for the first team and Developmental Squads (u-18, u-21 respectively, the former India international to an exclusive with The Goan expresses his gratitude to the club management for giving him this “golden opportunity”. r“To join the ISL as FC Goa goalkeeping coach is totally a different experience from the I-League. In Goa, everyone wants to be a part of FC Goa. I have worked under Derrick Pereira at Salgaocar FC. With him as the FC Goa Assistant Coach and Youth Developmental Squad in-charge, along with his guidance and experience working with him will be comforting,” stated the GK Course Level 2 holder. rThe lanky Margao-based former shot-stopper represented the country from 1994-03 playing over a dozen international tournaments. Virender became an Indian Tiger with the RG Gold Cup held in Hyderabad in 1994. He thereon went on to wear the India jersey at the Qatar Independence Cup (1996), had an exposure trip that same year in Iraq for the pre- World Cup matches, from where he played the FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in Doha, Qatar (also in 1996). After a lull of internationals, he was capped again three years hence, at the SAFF Cup in Goa wherein India became the champions, then went on to play the SAFF Games, Nepal (third place), the same year. At the turn of the new millennium, he was part of the Indian side that played the Asia Cup in UAE. rIn 2001, he represented the country for the FIFA World Cup qualification matches (Yemen, UAE, Brunei, India), then played the Merdeka Cup in Kuala Lumpur, had another exposure trip to England, after which he played the Sahara Millenium Cup in Kochi. After a year’s gap, he played his last international tournament at the SAFF Cup in Dhaka (2003) rTalking of his most significant memory as a goal-keeping achievement, two of them come to the mind of the AFC C License holder. “Defeating UAE in the World Cup qualifier in 2001 was very satisfying. Back in the day, no one would give us a chance to defeat a side as good as theirs, which is another matter with our current unit. To hold their attack for 90 minutes was a herculean effort to which I effected several saves, under pressure against a superior outfit, reminisced Virender fondly. Another stand-out memory he recalls is against Uzbekistan in the Asia Cup in 2000. He vividly recalls the striker dribbling past a defender and sending a well-directed curling shot to the second post. To this day, he does not know how he managed to fly towards the ball and tip it over to a delivery he thought was going for certain inside the nets. rAt the Club level, Virender plied his trade between the sticks first for a season at Sesa Goa (1995), before moving to Churchill Brothers for a couple of seasons (1996-98). He states that in the first year with the Varca-based outfit, they felt just short of becoming the National champions. “If we defeated Indian Bank in our last game we would have pipped JCT for the title,” he regretfully said. rHe thereon moved to JCT for a year (1999), after which he had a three year stint with Mahindra (until 2002), before switching loyalties to Punjab Police (2002-03). With his rich experience and expertise under the bar at varying levels with aplomb, he debuted as a goal-keeper coach for the 2003-04 season as the India junior coach across age-group levels. Thereon he returned as a player with Vasco S.C. (04-05), before switching over next season to Fransa Pax of Nagoa (2005-06) before culminating his professional career with a season at Salgaocar F.C. (2006-07). Since 2007, he represents Green and White stripes as their goalkeeping coach. rAt the Club level, he reveals his favourite memory was at his debut tournament at the National level with Sesa Goa at the Rovers Cup in Mumbai. “It was my best tourney, despite losing against an Oman side in the finals, we had the satisfaction of defeating such a big team in the group stage,” he reminisced. rWith the big gloves at the National level, his stand-out memory was when he represented JCT against Mohun Bagan boasting players of the calibre of I.M. Vijayan, Jo Paul Ancheri, Chima Okorie. “We had a young side and were against a top club. We were always behind and the match was largely played in our half. I effected around 10-15 saves, saved a penalty off a Chima strike and managed to draw the match which was unbelievable,” Virender proudly stated. rHis exploits under the horizontal, earned him the Best Goalkeeper award at the prestigious Santosh Trophy twice. The first instance was in 1995-96 when he played for Goa and then again, in 2000 representing Maharashtra he had the same honour. He also had the distinction of being part of the Media XI as the goalie at the conclusion of the 1st Phillips National League in 1996. rHaving worked with the likes of Laxmikant Kattimani, Subrata Paul, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, Shilton Paul, FC Goa literally are in good hands. And with Laxmikant Kattimani extending his contract with the gaurs, he spoke highly of the Port man. “Last year he did well with the Club, and he will do better this year. I have worked with him at Dempos and he is very sincere in his training,” Virender stated. “If you train rightly with the information given you will do well. For a goalkeeper, when you have the ball, you should know what the best option available is,” the goalkeeping coach with Salgaocars for the last 10 years added. rWorking with the FC Goa Developmental Squad, he states that the glovemen are talented. While singling Dylan D’Silva as the most promising of the lot with his techniques in place, he states that the others have to fine-tune their skills or else it will get difficult for them to improve and develop on their tactics. And he is working hard on them.