Dempo’s longest serving player, the ever popular Samir Naik, is now into his 18th consecutive season at the club, eclipsing the record of stalwarts like Camilo Gonsalves, Nicholas Pereira, Mahesh Lotlikar, Socorro Coutinho and Clifford Miranda. When he arrived, Dempo were relegated to the second division of the NFL but they rose like the proverbial phoenix to emerge as the most successful club in Indian football in the new millennium. Part of this was due to the consistency and quality of Naik’s defending on both flanks – largely left – and his distribution skills which were hugely underrated. His long throw-ins were an added bonus. Samir remains an exemplary team-man and all coaches would have wanted a player of his calibre and consistency. Even when not in the first eleven,which was only towards the fag end of his career, he would contribute from the bench. When the chips were down, coaches knew that they could count upon Samir and, no matter what, he would fight and galvanise the team to raise their performance. He was also a regular in the national squad for a long spell and even wore the captain’s armband.