Another remarkable performance was on the way for Luisma when Bengaluru had to play against FC Goa on 17th March. The mid-fielder was introduced following 70 minutes of a goalless game and the team was successful in winning the game by 1-0 when the extra time was just going to finish. It came as the second honor for this Spanish player without making a goal or without offering any assistance in the game.
He made the following comments about his time in the Indian League to Betway Online Football:
“They’re great players. They are very professional and work hard to improve and be able to help the team.
“Sunil [Chhetri], for example, is an icon in his country who has scored more goals for the national team than anybody else. He is 35 years old but trains like he is 18.
“For the soccer players in their country, and especially for the youngest ones, that is something very important because it shows that, with ambition, sacrifice and work, you can achieve great things.
“[On Chhetri] he is a player that is out to get goals. He is very quick and very clever, so he knows how to make the most of chances to get behind the defence.
“Gurpreet [Singh Sandhu] was a goalkeeper in great shape.
“Udanta [Singh] was among the fastest players I’ve ever seen – that’s why they called him ‘Flash’ – and he’s only 23.
“On the pitch they are very hard-working and off it they are just normal guys, although some are funnier than others! They were of a good level and they keep improving.”
The previous edition of the ISL was a dream for Bengaluru FC who won their first title. With the unrelenting support of the West Block Blues and the team strengthening itself in the off-season.
He helped the team whenever he stepped on the field, while becoming a major influence in the dressing room. He joined as a free agent in January 2019 halfway into the season, after terminating his contract with SD Ponferradina, a third-division Spanish side.
Talking about the call he received about moving to the unkmown, 5000 miles away, Luisma exclaimed, “There are moments that appear in your life and you have to decide whether to grab them or whether to let them go by, knowing that they will probably never come back around. At first, I said no, because I had no desire to leave.
“But, the more they told me about the league, the more I saw it as an amazing opportunity to continue playing football. So, the following morning, I accepted the offer,” a beaming Luisma said.
“At the end of the season, we had a meeting in Martin’s office,” Luisma recalls.
“I already sensed that he didn’t think much of me, and then he gave me a piece of paper with my statistics for that season [four goals, six assists].
“He pointed to the assists and said: ‘Not bad’, before pointing to the goals and saying: ‘Not good enough.’ He circled the four with a pen and looked me in the eyes for 30 seconds before saying: ‘If you score 10 goals next season, we’ll be champions.’,” Luisma continued.
“He said it deadly seriously, before breaking out in a smile from ear to ear. And that’s how it happened.”
Luisma scored 13 goals that season as Barnet won the title by a single point but, rather than make the step up with them to the Football League, he chose to return to Spain – bidding farewell to the fans in an emotion handwritten letter.
Bengaluru and Indian Football
So why go back abroad?
“It was a difficult decision,” he says, “but in the end, it was the right one. You always have to think that whatever decision you make is the right one. “I have great memories of Bangalore. They are three months that I will never forget.
“The relationship between the players was really good. The coaching staff made sure there was a good atmosphere around the place, and any dressing room that feels like a family goes a long way together.
“The Indian fans were also incredible. They really surprised me for the better,” he said.
“On the day of the final, we arrived on the coach, and I remember seeing all the people jumping for joy. Every single person in their colours – both for Bengaluru and Goa – mixing among themselves, no bad vibes.”
“It was incredible to see them enjoying themselves like that.”
If nothing happens, he is considering joining police force. He is now baffled because he has never been in such a situation. It sometimes gets frustrating for him but he is keeping himself ready for new opportunities.
He is extremely clear that he wants to continue football. But given how many opportunities he has seized along his journey, one cannot imagine it settling without one more chapter.