Panaji (Goa) [India], January 28 (ANI): FC Goa announced the signing of Spanish defender Hernan Santana for the remainder of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season, the club confirmed on their social media handles.
Santana joins the Gaurs as the replacement for Marc Valiente, who has been ruled out for the season due to injury.
Until recently, the 32-year-old played for the China League One side Sichuan Jiuniu led by former FC Goa head coach Sergio Lobera and finished in eighth place with them in the league, before agreeing to terms on a move to join the Gaurs.
"I'm thankful to FC Goa for giving me this opportunity. I know the league and the team well, and always thought they were one of the best clubs in India. Hence, when the Club came calling, I didn't have to think much before saying yes," Santana said, after signing on the dotted line.
"It all happened very quickly, but now I'm really happy to be a Gaur. FC Goa are always among the favourites to win the ISL, and I'm going to work hard and help the team in every way possible to help them. They surely deserve to be the Champions one day. Having played in India previously during COVID-19 times, I also always wanted to come back and live football here with total normality. To be able to enjoy the fans travelling to the different stadiums is something that I really look forward to," he concluded as quoted by the ISL website.
Ravi Puskur, FC Goa's Director of Football, also expressed his thoughts on Santana's signing.
"Hernan's signing adds a lot of depth to the squad, in terms of versatility and experience. He's a canny operator as a centre-back and also as a holding midfielder and with the games coming in thick and fast, Hernan's inclusion will give us more options than before," he said.
"He (Santana) knows this league inside out, has played in India before and has been successful. All of this made sense for us to sign him as soon as we were certain of his availability."Already an ISL League Shield Winner and ISL Champion, Santana began his football career by rising through the ranks at UD Las Palmas. In 2010, the Club handed him his senior debut with their Reserve Team in the Tercera Division, the then-fourth tier of the Spanish football league system.
The defender was promoted to the Las Palmas First Team the following year, where he stayed for the next seven seasons. He was a part of their team that secured promotion from the Segunda Division (second division league in Spain) to La Liga in 2015, and in the following season, he scored his only La Liga goal at the Santiago Bernabeu against a star-studded Real Madrid side.
After making 133 appearances for Los Amarillos across seven years, Santana joined Sporting de Gijon. The 2019-20 season saw him link up with now-Gaurs Alvaro Vazquez and Marc Valiente, before earning a loan move to ISL side Mumbai City FC at the end of their campaign in the Segunda Division.
With the Islanders, the Spaniard lifted the ISL League Winners' Shield and the ISL trophy following a stellar season. He started in all but five of their 23 games across the league, scored two goals and was a towering presence in the backline for the Mumbai-based outfit that season.
In 2021, the 32-year-old shifted base to NorthEast United, scoring in a famous win over FC Goa and also captaining the side on a few occasions before signing with Sichuan Jiuniu in China. (ANI)