Football in India had its own glory days in the ‘50s and ‘60s (under the tutelage of legendary Syed Abdul Rahim, India became the best team in Asia around this time) but a lack of infrastructure and planning led to its eventual snake-slide down the board. Still, where there was a past, surely a future can be recreated and at the very least, from the way things are beginning to look, we’re fairly certain that we can expect great surges forward in the world of Indian football.
The end of 2014 saw the kick off of the Indian Super League with worldwide football talents competing for the trophy on Indian soil. But did you know that some of the most gifted Indian footballers are playing for different clubs around the world? Homegrown presents to you some of the best Indian and Indian Origin players who have played in football clubs abroad. Some of the young Indians mentioned are products of Indian football clubs like Dempo / Salgaocar and more, who have done a stellar job in providing these young boys with the best possible platform and encouragement they could provide, while some have now even returned to take part in the Indian Super League.
1. Aditi Singh Chauhan ( West Ham United)
The latest sportstar to make India proud, 22- year-old Aditi Singh Chauhan became the first Indian woman footballer to be signed by a top English club. Aditi’s achievement came into the spotlight when she helped India win the South Asian Football Federation Cup in 2013. The goal-keeper’s football ambitions were cemented when her coach urged her to participate in the Under-19 Delhi Team Trials.
2. Brandon Fernandes (ASD Cape Town)
Brandon is a product of the Salgaocar youth program. During that time, he did a great job at the Manchester United premier cup and was offered a scholarship by South Africa’s ASD Cape Town in 2011.
He was also offered a trial by Reading & Leicester city, which are both EPL outfits and whose progress is still being monitored by many english championship clubs. Brandon has also represented India in the u-17 & u19 tournaments. He is currently playing for Sporting Clube De Goa.
3. Pratik Shinde (Houston Hurricanes)
18-year-old Pratik’s story is an inspiration to most sportsmen in the country and abroad. He was born and raised in the slums of Chembur in Mumbai, and he was only 15 when he landed a contract with a Texas based Galveston Pirates, a semi pro team in USA’s fifth division National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). The same team has been rebranded as Houston Hurricanes FC and Pratik continues to play for them. He will now be playing for the Pune City FC in the Indian Super League.
4. Myron Mendes (ASD Capetown)
Myron is another goan-born ASD Cape town scholar who has represented India in the u-13, u-14, u-15 & u-16 levels. He was spotted by ASD during his time in the Salgaocar youth program and is called a ‘Modern day attacking full back’ by the technical staff of ASD. He also joins Pratik at Pune FC in the ISL.
5. Aldrich Coelho (ASD Cape Town)
17-year-old Aldrich is the youngest of the Salgaocar kids that joined ASD cape town on a scholarship in 2013. Aldrich has represented Salgaocar in the 2010 MANCHESTER united premier cup and helped them win the Indian leg. He was also selected in the India under 15 team to tour Spain but couldnt make it cbecause of visa issues.
6. Amarjit Singh (ASD Cape town)
Amarjit was born in Punjab and joined the Salgaocar’s youth team only after his spells at Paldi & Mahilpur academies. The talented mid-fielder is only 20, and missed out on a call up to the India junior team due to his scholarship at Cape town.
7. Joshua Pynadath (Real Madrid)
Real Madrid beat Barcelona to sign this 13 year-old Indian-American in August 2013. Real signed the kid for a one year deal to join their academy after two trials. He spent some time earlier at Barcelona’s la Masia academy too during his trial but in the end, he joined Real Madrid. Joshua now attends the same school as Ronaldo’s kids while continuing to train at ‘La Fabrica’.
8. Malvind Benning (Walsall/Saddlers FC)
Malvind was born in Sandwell, west midlands of England. The 20-year-old kicked off (excuse the terrible pun) his initial football career at Wallsall FC and progressed through their youth program before he earned his first professional contract 3 years back. Malvind now plays for the Saddlers club in UK.
9. Yan Dhanda (Liverpool)
The 15-year-old Birmingham born young footballer was first spotted at Chelsea’s “Search for an Asian star” in 2010. With the West Brom academy since he was 9, he’s also spent time in clubs like Walsall , Aston Villa & Birmingham City before.
He made headlines in July 2013 when he signed up for Liverpool and became the first player of Indian origin to join the 5 time championship winning team. There is already plenty of hype surrounding him as he could go on to becoming a major international star and there have been suggestions that he would play at an international level for India rather than England.
10. Dylan Lall (Montreal Impact)
Born in Croydon, England, 19-year-old Dylan started his career with English outfit Brighton & Hove Albion. He is currently a part of the Montreal Impact Team in Canada
11. Jhai Dhillon (Chelsea/ Hayes & Yeading United)
Jhai is a defender who earned a one year pro contract with Stevenage FC in June 2013. He was also one of the winners of the ‘Search for an Asian star’ by Chelsea, and is currently playing for the Hayes & Yeading United Team.
12. Raunaq Chodankar (Brentford/Burton Albion)
Raunaq Chodankar, a winger and forward of Portuguese and Indian ancestry, lived in London since he was 16 years old. A part of the Southend United youth and Reserve squad a couple years back whilst attending Brunel University, Rounaq joined Brentford FC and even been part of a stint with Burton Albion.
Words: Varun Patra