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The Rise of Jestin George

Kozhikode, November 16: At one point of time everything was failing for Jestin George.The defender from Kottayam had a tough childhood with monetary difficulties plaguing his formative years as a footballer. And then there were the frequent on-field failures.

But instead of crumpling under the weight of expectations, he kept alive the insatiable desire to become a professional footballer and has almost achieved the unbelievable with Gokulam Kerala FC.

The defender has been the first choice pick of Argentine coach, Fernando Santiago Varela, and has been a consistent performer under the gaffer, who has so far done wonders in Kerala football.

“My life was full of failures. I was rejected by a number of coaches in childhood. Whenever, I went for a selection trial, I never got through it. Whenever setbacks happened to me, I used to say to me, ‘This is not the end”.

It was the desire to become a footballer that helped him to set aside the difficulties and move on. “My family was very supportive. Though my parents were daily labourers, the support they gave me was very immense. My mother used to take me to almost all the selection trials. But only after plus two, I was really able to make a mark of my own,” he said.

Even after joining Gokulam Kerala FC from Bengaluru FC U18 his journey to senior team was not that easy. Jestin was signed for the reserve team and though he trained with the senior team last season, he was not able to break into senior squad. After the I League, he helped Gokulam Kerala FC to finish runners up in the Kerala Premier League.

He again earned a call-up to the first team and this time with the Argentine coach, he found his mojo. “I got accustomed to his tactics rather easily. We are playing a three-man defense system, which gives solidity to both defense and attacking. Moreover playing along with Trinidad and Tobago defender Andre Ettienne and Irshad gives me good confidence. Both are experienced and I am able to learn a lot,” he said.

Jestin is looking forward to carry on his current form in the I League also. “We have already won Durand Cup and in Sheikh Kamal International Cup we almost made it to the final. It will be much more difficult in I League, but our aim is to lift the trophy,” he said.

“We are expecting a sold-out stadium for our first match against NEROCA FC on November 30 th. It is great to play in front of our supporters and with all the good display on pitch, I believe people will flock to our ground to watch us,” he added.

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