Kolkata:Having fought a lone legal battle in court after his passport was confiscated for "carrying extra cash", Brazilian footballer Jose Ramirez Barreto come back with a bang, guiding Mohun Bagan to their 28th Calcutta Football League (CFL) Premier Division title recently.
Considered as one of the best foreign players at the moment, the 32-year-old asserted that in the Kolkata league he proved that he has come out of that incident and his aim was to repeat his performance in the second edition of the I-League.
Barreto, who was arrested by custom officials on his way to Brazil in March, also said the incident made him mentally stronger.
"It was a bad experience in my life. But I became more determined after I came back from Sao Paulo. I proved in the Kolkata League that I've come out of that incident... My wife (Veronica) and daughters (Natalia and Isabella) have been a real support," Barreto told PTI in an interview today.
The Mohun Bagan striker, who with seven goals finished third in the list of top-scorer in the recently-concluded League, played a crucial role as his penalty conversion against East Bengal had clinched the title for the green-and-maroon brigade on September 13.
Barreto, who has represented Mohun Bagan since 1999-2000, said the League triumph had given them a the right start and winning the I-League this time was a real possibility.
For records, Barreto played for Mahindra United in 2005-06 season.
"Being the first tournament of the season, the league was a good preparation for all of us. We are all happy for having retained the title. Now we are confident that everybody is prepared for the I-League. We have a very good balanced side, an outstanding coach in Karim Bencherifa... there's no reason that we cannot win the title this time. We really have a chance," Barreto added.
Mohun Bagan, who had a fourth place finish last season, begin their campaign today, taking on the promoted team, Mumbai FC, at Barasat Stadium.
His name synonymous with the club, having proved saviour on several occasions, Barreto said he has established a relationship with the club.
"It feels good when the fans expect a lot from me. It's a relationship between myself and the club. My commitments speaks for itself... I cannot promise you goals... but what I can promise is that there would not be any lack in commitment from my side."
His captain Baichung Bhutia may have expressed his anguish for the lack of facilities in Jamshedpur which "robbed them two valuable days of practice" but Barreto feels their preparation was very good as they were given good facilities at a city hotel after the trip to the Steel City proved futile.
"We got great facilities here and we really had a nice time in the residential camp. Everybody is in good shape and raring to go (against Mumbai FC) tomorrow. But we must not underestimate our opponents... That they are promoted to I-League makes them a potential competitor. We have to see them, assess them, before going for attack."