In the last few years, several Indian football players have bagged contracts with foreign clubs including the dream Brazilian club. It was a dream for the Indian fans, many of whom support the Brazilian national team in world cups, when the Goan winger Romeo Fernandes, 22, turned out for the Brazilian professional club Atlético Paranaense. Fernandes is the first Indian to play a professional game in Brazil.
Another Indian, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, 23, became the first Indian to play for a top division club in Europe. Sandhu started as goalkeeper for Norwegian club Stabaek and was often hailed as “Big Indian, big hands”.
These young players are part of a generation of Indian footballers that is slowly breaking into the traditional power centres of football, making their way into European and South American clubs.
Sunil Chhetri, 30, also signed on for American Major League Soccer club Sporting Kansas City in March 2010 and then won a contract with the Portuguese side Sporting Clube de Portugal in 2012-13. Indian goalkeeper Subrata Pal, 28, joined top Danish side FC Vestsjaelland in January 2014 and played for the reserve team.
All in all, this is the beginning of good times for the sports in India. Football’s growing popularity, the growing level of professionalism in the domestic set-up and the Indian Super League (ISL), which was first played in last year are the primary factors contributing to this growth.
We hope this gives good encouragement to the budding football – players in the country! Way to go!!