In the second of a two-part interview with Ilkeston’s Brazilian goalkeeper Evandro Rachoni, Mark Duffy hears about life after Rachoni arrived in England.
Having lived in very differing countries in the form of Brazil, Angola and the Ukraine, adapting to England proved little trouble for Rachoni, helped by his command of the language being excellent.
However, he soon learned that without an agent, contacts were everything in a country with so many clubs and he soon got in touch with someone who in turn referred him to London Bari, a team in the ninth tier of non-league football.
“In this country, one person can know people at maybe ten different clubs so once I got with the first club things started to happen much quicker,” said Rachoni.
“I played one game at London Bari but the coach decided I needed to be higher up so referred me to an agent who could help me.
“He managed to engineer me a spell with Concord Rangers in the Conference South around the time they were playing Mansfield in the FA Cup. I played a league game for them and had a good match.
“Then my agent said there was interest in me from League One clubs Crawley Town, Peterborough United and Oldham.
“I initially went to Crawley but the facilities there were poor and they didn’t have a goalkeeping coach, so I wasn’t keen to stay.
“I’d said I was keen to go to Peterborough as their facilities and setup were much better, but just as I was about to head up there, Crawley said they wanted me to play in a county cup semi-final so I thought I would stick around and play and see what happened.
“In the end I was part of a team mostly of other trialists and several youth team players and we lost 6-1. It was awful and made my mind up about wanting to leave, especially as having been told I’d get a contract there it didn’t happen for various reasons.”
Rachoni travelled to Peterborough United and that was where he first met current Ilkeston boss Gavin Strachan, who was involved with both the youth team and first team alongside Darren Ferguson and Dave Robertson.
There he impressed enough to mean the coaching staff were keen to sign him on a contract, but then bad luck struck. Not only was Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony not available to sanction any deal, Ferguson and his staff were then relieved of their duties following a defeat at MK Dons and Rachoni’s chances of a deal were jeopardised.
He said: “I couldn’t believe it. I was so close to signing a deal and then they left the club. Dave Robertson eventually took over but him also wanting to get me signed up, the chairman then said they wouldn’t be making any new signings and I was suddenly back in limbo again.”
Rachoni returned to his girlfriend in Germany and was able to keep his fitness up, but Strachan hadn’t forgotten him.
Out of the blue and after Strachan had been appointed at Ilkeston, Rachoni received a call from the new Robins head coach.
“He said he needed a goalkeeper and was I available,” Rachoni explains.
“I jumped at the chance as I’d enjoyed working with him and also their fitness coach Marc Lindsey at Peterborough. I came over to train with Ilkeston and was impressed by the fact they are full-time and had good facilities.
“Things went well and with Gavin having told me how keen the club is to get promoted, I was happy to sign for a year.”
Subsequent good displays have endeared Rachoni to the Ilkeston faithful. They’ve nicknamed him ‘Bob’, with Rachoni adding: “I think a young fan came up with it at the Colwyn Bay when I’d saved a penalty - something along the lines of the TV character ‘Bob the Builder’ but ‘Bob the Brazilian’ instead!
“I’m happy here. The club have sorted me good accommodation where I have access to some great facilities and I’m enjoying playing for this team.”
And on Ilkeston’s chances this season?
“I came here because there is an intent to get promoted and I believe that can happen,” he says.
“We are learning a lot early on. There are young players not used to such competitive football but of the teams we’ve played so far, I haven’t seen anyone who seems any better than us overall, even in games we’ve lost.”
Rachoni hopes his time at Ilkeston will eventually help him move higher up the pyramid but his dedication to the Robins is as unrelenting as his dedication to being a goalkeeper, as emphasised by the miles he’s travelled to fulfil that role.
He adds: “Football is my life and I have nothing else I want to do. Whatever obstacles I’ve faced I have been determined to overcome in order fo achieve my dreams.
“Goalkeepers tend to be at their best from their late 20s onwards so I feel I still have a lot more to come.
“Of course if the chance to play higher up the leagues comes along I would have to consider it, but I’m at Ilkeston now and will give my best as long as I am here which at the moment is until next summer. The fans are fantastic with me and I want to repay them.”