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Noel steps into Chapman's boot

December 01, 1998 

The Indian Express 

MUMBAI: `An opportunity could make you hero in front of your own family and your teammates, you get noticed even on the airport in a second,'' says Noel Wilson, the 19-year-old FC Kochin mid-fielder.As a famous English saying goes `Opportunity knocks only once at your door and you have to grab it', and Noel did the same.When All India Football Federation (IAAF) decided to send a second string team to Sri Lanka to participate in Bristol Independence Cup. Federation settled to send a young team to give them some exposure. India qualified for the final and took on the hosts Sri Lanka. In the final match, Noel scored a spectacular goal which took the Indian B side to a unexpected win and ultimately won the Bristol Independence Cup. And Noel Wilson announced that he is ready to offer the best in the world's most popular game.<P>Born to a Catholic family in the famous Austin Town, Bangalore, which has produced a number of internationals in the past. Chapman, Mascarenhas brothers Peter and Mark are Noel's neighbours. Noel started kicking the ball at seven. The dominance of Carlton Chapman, his cousin helped him. `Noel', to his family, learnt and mastered his sublime skills at St Joseph's School where he was picked up by Miss Mary and Thyagraj for a Sports Authority of India (SAI) programme when he was just 15. After having a stint at SAI, Bangalore, where his coaches and Chapman recognised his potential and asked him to appear for Tata Football Academy trials. He joined the TFA under coach Mohd Habib. He underwent training for two years along with Sanjib Sheikh, James Singh, Prabhjyot Singh and Mahesh Gawli. ``I thank god for whatever I am today. I just want to play professional football as long as possible,'' said a god-fearing Noel. ``As the season ended, all leading clubs converged to recruit TFA boys. I was approached by FC Kochin and various other teams. The offer to go with team appeared sensible to me, so I joined FC Kochin,'' said Noel, speaking to The Indian Express. Noel, whohas also played the Junior nationals in hockey, is a versatile and natural footballer as he can play anywhere according to the needs of the team and requirements of the coach.He enjoys playing as a defensive mid-fielder: ``Habib made me understand my real position. I also think that I have endurance to last for 90 minutes. But today, with the coach demands something exceptional, so you should be ready to play any position.''Two prolific years with TFA under Habib are still fresh in Noel's mind. ``The kind of facilities you get in TFA is impossible to get anywhere else,'' says the Indian B team live-wire. He was the part of the Indian youth team which went to Thailand, but he was disappointed with the team's performance. ``We did not have any preparatory matches before the  the tournament. If we have to improve, we have to play against better opponents,'' says Noel.The talented young mid-fielder has one aspiration -- to don India colours.


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