Ranti Martins has been one of the most feared striker in I-League for several seasons now. It has been 10 years in India, having joined Dempo in 2004. This unstoppable goal machine also holds the record for scoring the maximum goal in a season after he scored 32 goals in 2011-12 season. Having achieved many trophies, this year he played a different role when he joined Rangdajied United and saved them from relegation. Recently, it had been rumored in local media that he is going to join East Bengal, with Mohun Bagan officials trying hard to sign him.
The towering striker gave a exclusive interview to Indian Football Network, opening up himself about this season, his past and his future aspirations. The interview also brings out the other, much softer side of the lethal striker, he is a devout Christian and a devoted family man. Ranti Martins, right now, is making all his career decision in a way wish doesn’t disrupt his kids’ academic career and his family’s stability. Following the the details of the interview.
Gradually more reputed Footballers are joining I-League clubs. How difficult have your job become now?
I love taking newer challenges. I like to conquer tougher obstacles day in and day out. More the good quality foreigners come to India to play in the I-League, better it’s for Indian football. It would help the local guys to hone their skills while rubbing their shoulders with those prolific foreign players.
After spending so many years in Indian football league, how do you rate Indian defenders as opposed to foreign based defenders? Whom would you pick as the best defensive team and individual?
All the teams are bound to have strong and productive foreign players. Mostly these teams ploy their strategies surrounding the foreign players. That’s why I think foreign players have a little edge over the Indian counterparts.
As a team East Bengal defense is very robust and hard to break down. As for a particular defender, I would take John Johnson’s name. He is a top defender, I must say.
How different have been your role in RUFC? Normally you strive for the Championship battle but here you had to toil hard to save the relegation.
Pretty different, I must admit. Newer challenges and newer hurdles. While I switched to the Shillong club, the club was hovering around the relegation zone. They were about to get relegated to the 2nd division. By God’s grace, I performed and netted quite a few goals for them. Incidentally, I scored against United SC too, my parent club. I always thrive to newer heights and want to attain newer levels.
How the different is the football culture of Shillong from Kolkata?
Kolkata is the most football crazy city. However, both the cities go gaga over football. The hilly region guys are natural footballers, utmost talented. On the other hand, several Kolkata boys as well as suburban boys have performed well in the I-League. Given proper direction, they would definitely blossom and don the national jersey in near future.
There was a media report last year about your participation in Nigerian National team camp. Would you please elaborate on this?
Yeah, we had a few discussions with the national coaching team. But unfortunately everything didn’t work out till the end and the proposal fell apart. I am awaiting another opportunity to grab on.
Don’t you think playing in India means to compromise with your dream of making into the Nigerian national team?
Yes, to some extent definitely yes. I started playing in the Asante Kotoko Football Academy in Ghana, subsequently signed for King Faisal Babes in Ghana Premier League. I was sidelined owing my prolonged injury. Eventually, my agent got the contract with Dempo and I joined. The quality of Indian league is very high and everybody plays out of their skin. The league in Nigeria is very much competitive, but with due respect, I must say, it would be edged out by the quality of I-league, definitely.
Don’t you dream of playing in a European club in future?
Yes absolutely. Back in 2009, I was invited for a trial session in Bahrain, but the Dempo didn’t let me go. Again I got an opportunity of a month long trial in a Norwegian club. It started in a positive note. But I could not afford to stay back that long as the Indian season was about to break. By God’s grace, I want to perform till I can. I would do the same as long as I can. Now it’s everything up to my luck and almighty’s blessings.
There’s a rumor going on that you are going to sign for East Bengal for the next season while Mohun Bagan has also started negotiations with you? Where would you prefer to sign?
I would love to play for Kolkata clubs. Both are big names and glamorous clubs in Indian football map. Though it has been going in a positive direction with one of the clubs till now, hoping to join them in the next season and scoring more goals for them as well.
Would you mind to naming that particular club (grins)?
Definitely (Laughing). Frankly speaking, I am really hopeful to sign for East Bengal, though the other option has not yet dried up.
Would you consider a lucrative offer from a non-Kolkata club?
At this moment, no. My kids are admitted to school, their academic career would be hampered if I shift. I can’t take it casually. Right now, I would prefer Kolkata clubs by a mile.
Would you like to settle down in India akin to Chima Okerie or would you prefer to be football coach after hanging your boots?
Oh, I’m still young(grins), huh! I want to play for at least 5 years. For the time being, I have to forgo the coaching option. My wife is settled here. Kids are growing up. Once you take up a professional coaching duty, you have to travel a lot. It would be hard to swallow that. I’m very obsessed with my family, you know. Let’s stay at the present. I’ll chalk out my plans surely while I reach at that stage.
Thank You Ranti for your time and best of luck for your next season.