Up & Close with Rino Anto!
28th October 2015
From idolising his father to being one of the highest paid ISL picks of this season, young defender Rino Anto has come a long long way in his football career.
Arguably the country's best right at the moment, Rino made a very promising start singing with current I-League champions Mohun Bagan in 2008. He had just passed out the famed Tata Football Academy, and his was nothing less than a dream debut. He plied his trade for the Indian football giants for two years, before heading westward to Goan giants Salgaocar. His career was on the upswing but in a move that surprised fans and football pundits alike, he signed on with a 2nd Division club, Quartz, which had been trying to break into the I-League, in 2012. We met Rino after a gruelling practise session before tomorrow's all-important match against the Delhi Dynamos, and naturally, this topic cropped up. "It sometimes seems unbelievable, you know! I'd almost stopped playing football due to some personal issues, but then Bengaluru FC happened. I settled in nicely there, performed well. And, now Atletico de Kolkata. My family and friends are so thrilled for me! It's been such a dramatic turn of events", shared the soft-spoken Thrissur boy.
2015 has been a game changer for Anto. He was picked up by ATK during the ISL auctions for a cool 90 lacs, making him one of the highest paid Indian players in the league. He also earned his debut international cap earlier this year when India played against Oman on June 11 in a 2018 World Cup Qualifier. And, there's been no looking back for him since. In fact, he says he's hadn't had a single day off for over a year now! Is he tired? "No way! I'm eager to go out and play. I want to do well for Kolkata, I HAVE to play well for all the ATK fans!"
The family-loving guy that he is (he's got tattoos of his mother and siblings on both arms), he seems to have settled in nicely in the ATK family. "All of us support each other a lot. Borja, Gavilan are extremely supportive towards the Indian players. Humey is always cracking jokes, Borja puts on music. We have a lot of fun", he told us smilingly when we wanted to know a little more about the ATK boys we all love and hero-worship! "We have a great bunch of footballers. Injuries are tough, but we are a team. And, we rally around each other", he added. There's been a lot of speculation about the team's fitness, and fans are, understandably, a little worried. But, Rino's confidence goes a long way in assuaging any lingering doubt there might be in anybody's mind. ATK is prepared and raring to go for tomorrow's match!
This is Rino's first home match, after missing the first one against Kerala Blasters FC because of his national commitments. And, he's extremely thrilled about going out and playing in front of the home crowd! "When we played against East Bengal (during his stint with Mohun Bagan), there would be about 1lac people at the Salt Lake Stadium. I hope all of those lovely people will now come and watch ATK play. And, I promise to do my best", he chirped excitedly!
Rino is sure about what he's going to do tomorrow-"we won't let them score". And, we're sure you are too! Turn up at the stadium, and cheer for ATK, loud and clear, right? So, see you tomorrow for some Fatafati Football!