Francis D'Souza Forward (1974-1979, 1984-1987) International

Francis D’Souza

Forward (1974-1979, 1984-1987)

Francis D’Souza scored goals almost for fun, and on demand. There were so many that he has surely lost count but there are some that he will never forget. For example, how can he forget scoring the fastest goal, inside 19 seconds, against Salgaocar at the Eden Gardens (Calcutta) in the 1979 Federation Cup? Or the hat-trick against Leaders Club – made famous by the great Inder Singh – in the final of the Bandodkar Gold Trophy in 1976? It was the first time that anyone had scored a hattrick in the seven-year history of the all-India tournament, and to do it in the final, against a great team like Leaders, was doubly special. He also will never forget scoring both goals in the 1979 Rovers Cup final against Orkay Mills. On his 24th birthday! Then there is also the small matter of winning a crucial penalty that allowed Dempo to score in the dying minutes and become the first Goan club to win the prestigious Rovers Cup in 1975. D’Souza was a goal-machine; he set new standards in his position and was almost unstoppable in his prime. He was also a trailblazer. But with due respect to all his goals, it was the Saligao wunderkind’s move to Mohun Bagan at the second attempt in 1979 that will forever define his career, becoming the first Goan footballer to migrate to the glamour and uncertainty of the Calcutta maidan. D’Souza picked up his first contract worth R 400 with Dempo – whom he joined from Panvel in 1974 – and as he metamorphosed into a goal-scoring phenomenon, Mohun Bagan reportedly offered him an annual contract worth R75,000 apart from other perks, including four flight tickets to Goa. D’Souza however returned home after a few years and ended his career with the club of his dreams. “I was always fascinated by the whites of Dempo. They trained at Don Bosco where I was studying, and it was my dream to wear that jersey someday,” he recalled. It didn’t take him long. He was already making waves with the school outfit and soon enough was absorbed by Don Bosco Oratory, a second division side. A move to Panvel followed and when the fledgling club upset all calculations to win the Bandodkar Gold Trophy in 1974, Dempo officials showed up at his doorstep with an offer he couldn’t refuse. D’Souza signed up, and the rest, however cliched it may sound, is history.