OmanPride: These friends from Muscat are now Europe’s football champions
December 16, 2017 | 5:40 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan
Daley took the words of legendary United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to heart, and used them as inspiration to forge ahead in the Barcelona Fives.

When Daley Mathias left Oman to study in the UK, he wouldn’t have expected his time there to live this long in the memory. Daley Mathias and his friends, all of whom hail from Muscat, won the Barcelona Fives tournament earlier this year, becoming the first Middle Eastern team to do so. The annual five-a-side tournament is organised by the Euro Football Fives organisations, and features 32 global teams, who are asked to participate solely on an invitational basis, a testament to what Daley and his friends – Rubik Menezes, Deepesh Mehta and Arjun Nanda – had previously achieved in the Sultanate.

“I must admit that we did get off to an unconvincing start, conceding both our opening games,” said Daley, a recent postgraduate from the University in Salford in Manchester. “But we managed to pull back results in our favour as the tournament progressed. We were able to secure two wins and a draw from the next four games and it took a lucky moment that presented us with an opportunity to qualify for the next round when the team from Denmark lost their last two group games.

“We needed a big win in our last game against a Swiss team and had to score more than three goals to narrowly edge out the Danes on goal difference,” added Daley, speaking exclusively to the Times of Oman. “Fortunately, we saved our best group game performance for last and went on to secure qualification to the next round with a 4-0 win.”

A die-hard Manchester United fan – he was at Old Trafford to watch his beloved team on many occasions, and would’ve surely been heartbroken to see the Red Devils lose 2-1 at home to arch-rivals Manchester City – Daley took the words of legendary United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to heart, and used them as inspiration to forge ahead in the Barcelona Fives, which is held at the Brafa football facility in Barcelona.

“Sir Alex Ferguson wisely said, ‘attack wins you matches, but your defence wins you titles’, and indeed, I can proudly say that our defence of Deepesh, Arjun and Spanish keeper David Gallego were a fortress from this point forward,” admitted Daley.

After overcoming US-based CAP FC in the quarters, Daley and Co had every right to be wary of P Slayer, who had steamrolled teams through the group stages.

“Once again, our defence stood its ground through an intense semifinals game,” he recalled. “Personally, for me, this was a final before the final. And fortunately, as fate would have it after a goalless draw, I was presented with a golden assist from Rubik in extra time to send the team from England packing which I grabbed with both hands.

“We ground out a 1-0 win which to us felt like we had just won a war,” added Daley. “In the finals we came up against Leek High Boys from Ireland who we had previously played in our group which finished in a 1-1 draw. Our confidence level going into the finals were second to none. We were able to convincingly win 3-0.”

With mum Maria and dad Cletus both being accomplished athletes during their school and collegiate years, Daley was encouraged to play sports from a very young age onwards.

“My parents are very sport oriented having won more awards in their school and college years, than I could ever achieve in a lifetime, so I must say that I owe it to them for getting me interested, as both football and cricket are treated like food at home,” said Daley. “Moreover, my brother Dylan and I are blessed to inherit these genes.

“I have been playing football for as long as I can remember all the way from representing the Under-7 category of the Indian School Muscat football team, which was when I was in the second grade all the way through to my undergrad in Muscat and now at University level in Manchester,” he added.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the sport for more than 22 years, Daley has some words of wisdom to impart to the next generation of footballers.

“Have fun when you step onto the pitch, it’s not all about winning but giving it all you’ve got,” he said.

“Once you can do that, success will automatically follow. Also, I cannot stress on how much of a team game football is, no single player is bigger than the team. If you can defend and attack as a team, even the best of opposition players or teams become ineffective against you on the pitch.”

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