| Edinho Junior |
Guwahati, Feb. 13: Nearly 14 years after Baichung Bhutia made the move to foreign shores to join English club FC Bury, Edon Junior Viegas do Amaral, a striker from former English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers, will don Shillong Lajong colours in the I-League, India’s flagship football tournament.
Popularly known as Edinho Junior, the 1994-95 Premier League champion club’s centre-forward will be joining Lajong on a short-term loan from February 16 and will be plying his trade for the northeastern outfit in their remaining matches.
The 18-year-old Portuguese national of Brazilian origin, who moved to Blackburn Rovers on a three-year contract from Portuguese club SC Olhanense on July 25 last year, is the son of former Brazilian international footballer Edon do Amaral Neto.
Edinho will be the sixth foreigner in the ranks of the Shillong outfit — the others being two Nigerians, two Japanese and a Korean. The signing will definitely provide Lajong a decisive edge for the remainder of the season. The Shillong outfit are facing relegation scare, placed 11th with only 19 points from 20 matches in the 14-team league. They will face Pune FC, Mohun Bagan, ONGC and Prayag United in the away matches and Mumbai FC at home in the remaining matches, from March 24 onwards.
“We are thankful to Blackburn Rovers for providing us with a player of Edinho’s ability. He will be an incisive edge to our forward line and definitely add more onfield,” Shillong Lajong general secretary Larsing Ming Sawyan said.
The signing of Edinho marks the first ever loan transfer of a player from an international club of Rover’s stature to any Indian club. Established in 1875, the Lancashire-based Blackburn Rovers were a founder member of the Football League in 1888 and eventually the Premier League, along with Aston Villa and Everton. They currently compete in the Football League Championship on being relegated from the Premier League after the 2011-12 season. “This exchange of talent — a first of its kind in Indian football — will set a precedent for future exchange of knowledge and information which, in turn, will help drive football forward in India. Edinho is an exciting young player and Indian fans will enjoy his exploits on the field,” said Dhruv Ratra, CEO (sports and marketing) of Anglian Holdings, an overseas stakeholder of Lajong FC.
Commenting on the development, Balaji Rao, managing director of Venky’s London Limited, an Indian group that took ownership of Rovers from local steel baron Jack Walker in 2010, said: “We are pleased to be associated with Shillong Lajong FC through the loan of young Edinho. We look forward to the opportunities to help develop our players and football in India through strategic partnerships.”