May 19, 2021 will be a date Glan Martins will remember for years to come.
The Goan midfielder received his maiden India call-up for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
Martins is in the list of 28 probables that landed in Doha and of the goals he has set for himself, his immediate focus is on making that 23-man squad.
"I am taking it step by step. This is just a first call into the list of 28 probables. I understand the list will be trimmed further down to 23. My first aim is to make it to the list of 23," Martins tells Norma Astrid Godinho/Rediff.com.
"For that, I need to deal with every training session as if it is my last one. All the gathered players here are the best in their country. The competition is immense among all, but at the same time, the camaraderie is exceptional," adds the soft-spoken youngster from Velsao village in Goa.
"My eventual aim is to break into the first XI on a regular basis and make a mark -- not for me, but for the entire country. I feel I can do it, but I would rather be patient and take it one step at a time," says the 26 year old.
A product of the SESA Goa Football Academy, Glan's connection with the beautiful game started in 2010 polishing his skills at the renowned football school before breaking into the professional circuit, playing in the I-League for Sporting Clube de Goa and later for Churchill Brothers, where he played 14 matches.
He got his big ticket move to the Indian Super League when he was signed on by ATK Mohun Bagan at the start of the 2020-2021 season.
"Nothing can supplement hard work, and dreaming big. Both need to be in sync. You cannot achieve everything in one day and in the long path, there will be ups and downs in your life," he says.
"As much there will be elation, there will also be disappointments -- in fact, the disappointments will always be more," he adds.
"And besides working hard, you need to regulate yourself to discipline. For me, that's the most crucial part. You cannot be undisciplined and dream to make it big, especially during your early days."
The ISL was a different beast, and the central midfielder, who was the mainstay of his previous clubs, was struggling to get into the matchday squad, let alone the playing XI.
Frustrating as it was, Martins didn't lose hope and during the January transfer window he made the move home, landing a contract with FC Goa.
It was as if a switch was turned on and everything started moving in the right direction for the youngster. Despite having little time to adjust to the new club, Martins wasted no time and put on one impressive performance after another.
Injuries forced FC Goa Coach Juan Ferrando to put the new recruit to test as a substitute and eventually, on February 8 he made the first team against Mumbai City FC. It was the match that put him in the spotlight -- a brilliant strike from outside the 18-yard box left everyone gasping!
That stunner was just the beginning of good things for the young man who then went on shine in the role of defensive midfielder for the club in the AFC Champions League. Picking three points, The Gaurs did not progress beyond the group stage of the ACL, but Martins had caught the eye of the national scouts.
"I would like to thank the coach for getting the best out of me and for believing in me. He is someone who has been guiding and motivating me all throughout. That has added to my confidence. I need to pay him back for all his faith in me," Martins says of FC Goa Coach Ferrando.
Another person he wants to make his proud is his dad, Roque Martins.
"He is my hero. I have seen him working so hard for our family. I have got the fighting spirit from him. I am exceptionally proud of him and need to make him proud," he says.
When Martins made the national squad probables, FC Goa President Akshay Tandon tweeted: 'Truly wonderful to see @GlanMartins in the national team. Much deserved. He has been a revelation ever since joining us in January. Looking forward to seeing more of him.'
That sure is what every FC Goa fan, including club co-owner Virat Kohli, would expect.