The Young Gun – Joshua Bernard Pereira, Garena Young Lions

Former national under-18 midfielder Joshua Pereira wants to shine in his first year with the Young Lions after recovering from two horrific injuries so early in his career.

It has been no ordinary route to success for Pereira, who has had to bounce back from not one, but two major injury setbacks already in his young career.

The midfielder fractured his right fibula when he was 12 and then suffered a broken ankle four years later, in 2013.

“I pretty much remember telling my mother that I didn't want to play football anymore when I broke my leg for the first time,” he told FourFourTwo.

“As for the second leg break, it was actually pretty tough for me because that was the year where my (National Football Academy) batch was playing in the Lion City Cup.

“I guess it wasn’t meant to be for me, so I just had to pick myself up from there and carry on. It was probably my love for the game, that’s why I managed to do so and continue playing.”

Bounce back he did, as he regained full fitness and eventually got his big break late last year when he caught the eye representing the national under-18s during their qualification tournament for the 2016 AFC Under-19 Championship.

I just had to pick myself up. It was probably my love for the game, that’s why I managed to continue playing.

Although the team failed to make it to the tournament proper, Pereira managed to impress national technical director Michel Sablon, who singled him out for praise.

“That was my first big tournament – even though it was just the qualifiers, the team prepared for it as though it was the main tournament itself,” shared the youngster, who models his game on German footballer Bastian Schweinsteiger.

“Although we did not qualify, everyone played their hearts out and fought for each other against very tough opponents like South Korea and Thailand. So they deserve the credit as much as me.”

Pereira has since capped off a remarkable turn in fortunes as he was selected in the Young Lions squad, which consists of mostly under-21 players, to participate in the 2016 S.League season.

This is the 18-year-old’s first step into professional football and he is keen to take full advantage.

“It’s going to be quite a big jump from playing in the Prime League to playing in the S.League, so I have to be mentally and physically ready for the challenge,” he said.

“My personal target this year is to keep pushing myself to be better every day and play to my best abilities. It’s going to be tough for me and the rest who is going to play in the S.League for the first time, so we have to work doubly hard.

“I guess all of us will be trying to go out there to prove a point that we’re not a team that can be easily walked over, but one which can actually play proper football and win matches.”

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Photo: FAS