Brazilian striker Diego Mauricio, who struck two vital goals and led his team Odisha FC to Super Cup 2023 title win with a 2-1 victory over Bengaluru FC in the final on Tuesday night, feels it's been the best season of his footballing career.
Mauricio, who won the ISL Golden Boot, extended his contract with the club until 2025, just a few days ahead of the Super Cup. The Brazilian was the name on every Odisha fan's lips before the tournament began, and it still is after their historic triumph.
After his contract extension, the 31-year-old said he believed he could achieve great things with Odisha and it only took him 22 days to do exactly that. On a glorious night in the Kozhikode rain, Maur�cio found the net twice in the first half against Bengaluru FC.
He scored or assisted in each of Odisha's five matches in the Super Cup ending the competition with five goals, two assists, and deservedly, the Hero of the Tournament award."For me, it's the best season of my life.
This is history - Odisha are champions. It's a great night and we're very happy. I scored two goals to help the team win, and I'm the best player of the tournament. It's very special," said an emotional Mauricio after the final.
The 2022-23 ISL season in itself was also historical for Odisha FC as the club qualified for the play-offs for the first time. It, of course, would not have been possible without Mauricio's 12 goals."It's always great to be on the scoresheet because scoring goals isn't easy.
I have top teammates behind me who set me up with passes. I work hard, and they help me work hard as well," the Brazilian was quoted as saying by AIFF.Their hard work has taken them a long way.
In the 2020-21 season, which was Mauricio's first at Odisha, they ended up rock bottom of the ISL table with just two wins and 12 points. Seven of their 12 goals were netted by the Brazilian.Next season, Mauricio joined Mumbai City FC on a half-year deal, and went on to create history there as well.
He scored the first-ever goal by an Indian club in the AFC Champions League Group Stage in Mumbai City's 2-1 victory over Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya.But when Odisha came calling again, it was hard to say no.
The talismanic striker returned for his second stint with the Bhubaneswar outfit in 2022, and this time, he was here to stay."I love Odisha. I love the city of Bhubaneswar. I love the people. I want to keep going and win more trophies for Odisha FC," said Maur�cio, for whom there was no better way of celebrating two more years at his beloved club than winning their first-ever silverware.
"Today, I thank God. God has blessed me, my family, my teammates and everything which has made possible the first title in the history of Odisha FC," he added.