Luisma’s Journey to a Season Winner in Indian Super League

Luisma’s circle of associations has been revolving from one club to another right from the beginning of his career. Before moving to India, the Spaniard was a free agent. And it is totally surprising, that after he has won his second league title, Luisma has been rendered club-less again.

“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.”

Come January 2019, Luis Manuel Villa Lopez, a.k.a Luisma was set loose after terminating his contract with SD Ponferradina. SD Ponferradina is a third division side in the northwest of Spain. 

But, his fate was about to change when he received a call only to relocate 5000 miles away in India to be signed into Bengaluru FC only to play in the Indian Super League. 

When opportunity strikes, we need to make a decision, but at this time, Luisma had no desire to move. 

“But, the more they told me about the league, the more I saw it as an amazing opportunity to keep on playing the game. So, the next morning, I accepted the offer.”

In the previous season of the ISL, Bengaluru FC finished in the second position. Halfway through their regular season, The Blues had one spot left for a foreign to be included in the rooster. 

As per the ISL rules, there can be up to 8 foreign players to the team, and out of them, only 5 can play at one time. 

In the team, he was playing from attacking midfielder with the Jersey No. 9. To this, Luisma said, “In my case, I didn’t initiate many games but normally came off the bench to try and make a difference.”

And he did exactly what he said. 

In the season when Luisma was in the rooster, Bengaluru FC finished on the top of the league after playing 18 games. But to earn the title, they had to win the two-legged playoff with North East United. 

Bengaluru lost 2-1 in the first game but was still ahead on the aggregate. It was in the second game that Luisma came into play at the 22nd minute, and the result was in favour of Bengaluru. They won the game 3-0. 

The day came when Bengaluru FC had to face FC Goa in the final. And this was the game that cemented the Spaniard’s place in the team. The game was goalless until the 70th minute. And Luisma was introduced after this. He did what was expected, and scored the maiden goal of the game only 4 minutes prior to the end of extra time. And Bengaluru FC won the game. 

The goal Luisma struck at this hour was what became the second honour of his strange career. 

Scratching through his career, Luisma made his La Liga debut just 3 weeks after his 18th birthday. He was included in a local club, Racing Santander. Luisma played three games as a substitute, and one of his performances was at the Nou Camp, where his team faced a defeat (4-0) to Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona. o

In the next three years, Luisma bounced into 4 different clubs only to arrive in England in July 2013. He came for a trial with Barnet. Barnet was managed by Edgar Davids, who is also a Champions League Winner. 

The trial went in favour of the Spaniard, and he earned a contract only to play as a regular starter from the conference side. Post this, David resigned, and in came Martin Allen from January. 

It can be said that Martin was not a very big fan of Luisma, and due to this, his playtime on the ground began to dry up under Martin. 

“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].

In the meeting, Martin pointed out to the 6 assists and commented, “Not Bad.” For the 4 goals, Martin said, “Not Good Enough,” and he also circled the four goals. 

This was followed by ‘If you score 10 goals next season, we’ll be champions.’ Martin was not joking around with this, and he said it dead seriously. To Luisma’s benefit, this is how it happened, he scored 13 goals in succeeding season. 

Barnet won the title leading with a single point. And this was the time when Luisma should have leveled up in the game, but he chose to return back home to Spain. 

He bid adieu to the fans with an emotional handwritten letter. 

His decision to go back abroad stunned everybody, but what was the reason behind it?

Luisma says that it was a difficult decision, but it also was the right one.

Coming back to India, where Luisma had helped Bengaluru FC win their league title. Luisma collected some great memories at Bengaluru FC, the three months that he spent here were memorable. 

“I have great memories of Bangalore. They are three months that I will never forget.”

Everything was great here, the coaching staff, the relationship between the players, and the fans. The atmosphere within the dressing room was more like a family of brothers in arms. 

“On the day of the final, we arrived on the coach, and I remember seeing everyone jumping for joy. Every single person in their colours – both for Bengaluru and Goa – enjoying among themselves, no bad vibes.

For Luisma, it was an incredible sight to see the Indian fans enjoying themselves like that. 

The Spaniard turned 30 in August, and for the first time in his career, he is without a club. 

If nothing pans out, he wishes to take the police entrance exams. He has not given up any hope of continuing with his remarkable career. 

“It is strange,” he admits, “because this is a new situation for me. Frustrating as it may be, Luisma is ever ready to strike when the opportunity strikes. And that is why he is always taking good care of his health and makes sure that he is in good shape. 

“I’m very clear in my mind – I want to keep playing the game, to have fun on the field, and be in a dressing room with my team-mates. I miss everything that accompanies it, but, above all, I want to continue enjoying doing what I love most.”

You have to admit, the roller coaster of a journey that Luisma has had until now has not hit a break just yet. There is at least one more chapter waiting for the right to strike and take Luisma by surprise once again.

This article was written in collaboration with Betway Online Betting,

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Ajay Deep

Ajay Deep is a young enthusiast who Loves Chandigarh and is always eager to make this beautiful city even more beautiful. A Mechanical Engineer By Chance and Working in an IT MNC by Choice. A Writer, Photographer and a Budding Entrepreneur. A Designer, Developer and Digital Marketing Expert. In brief : A Jack of All Trades and Master of Few :) You may reach Ajay Deep at ajay@chandigarhmetro.com