thumbnail Hello, Special: Ten Indian Connections With European Football Special: Ten Indian Connections With European Football

The Indian links....

With Venkateshwara Hatcheries (VH) expected to take over English Premier League's Blackburn Rovers and Indian origin coach Robin Dutt, who is the head coach of German Bundesliga outfit Frieburg, recently making headlines in the Indian media ahead of his side's league encounter with Bayern Munich.'s Amoy Ghoshal brings you ten other connections with European football.

The connections are not in any particular order

Mohammed Salim

The legendary Mohammed Salim was an integral part of the great Mohammedan Sporting side of the 1930’s. But will always be best remembered for having the distinction of being the first Indian footballer to play abroad. Despite playing bare feet, Salim impressed 1,000 club members of Glasgow Celtic and three registered coaches with his skills during his trial at the Scottish giants. He impressed in Celtic’s big wins over Galston and Hamilton Accies. But Salim started to feel homesick and despite much persuasion from Celtic to keep him, he returned to India to play for Mohammedan Sporting again.

Bhaichung Bhutia

Injury Plagued Time At Bury

The Indian national team captain gave unsuccessful trials at clubs like Fulham, West Brom and Aston Villa but eventually signed for English Third Division outfit Bury FC in 1999. Bhaichung’s stay at the Greater Manchester club was plagued by a recurring knee injury. Thus he never got to show his full potential and got to play very few matches. However he did have the honour of appearing in a pre-season friendly match against Man United at Old Trafford in 2001 and the experience he gained at Bury definitely made him an even better player.

Sunil Chhetri

Had A Trial At Coventry

Back in January 2009, Sunil gave a trial at English Championsip outfit Coventry City. He was there at the Midlands club for a week and there did appear a decent prospect that he might be able to earn a permanent move. But Coventry coach Chris Coleman eventually didn’t want to sign him. The current Kansas City Wizards striker was also linked with a move to QPR with an Indian daily reporting that he had signed a three year deal but the British government denied him a work permit because of India’s FIFA Ranking.

Anil Ambani

The billionaire Indian businessman was on the brink of buying two Premier League clubs back in 2008. He was linked with a £230m takeover of Newcastle, but withdrew his interest because of the ongoing uncertainty behind the scenes at the North East club of England. Then the 51 year old was believed to be interested in buying Everton as the Merseyside club was keen to complete their £400m Destination Kirkby stadium project. But in the end nothing materialized.

Michael Chopra

Former Magpie

The current Cardiff City striker was born in Newcastle and is a product of the Magpies youth academy. His father is an Indian and thus in 2006 he became the first player of India origin to score in the Premier League. Chopra has also appeared in the Champions League for Newcastle and has played for several other English clubs on loan from Newcastle. The other Premier League club he has played for is Sunderland. Currently he is on his second spell with Welsh outfit Cardiff City.

Harpal Singh

Harpal is another player of Indian origin who currently plays for  West Yorkshire based Guiseley A.F.C. Born in Bradford, the 29 year old winger is a product of the Leeds United academy but he never made any senior appearance for Leeds. While on loan from Leeds, he did play senior matches for Bury FC, Bristol City and Bradford City. After spending five years in Allen Road, he moved to Stockport County in 2005 and spent one season there. He has also had spells at Irish Premier Division clubs Sligo Rovers, Bohemian and Dundalk.

East Bengal

Great Honour For EB

In the recent past we have seen various European clubs have tie ups with Indian football and even clubs. Such kind of partnerships has mostly seen representatives from European clubs host clinics or youth programmes in India. But back in 2004, when East Bengal had a tie up with Leicester City, the Kolkata giants were invited to play in a pre-season tournament at Leicester City’s Walkers Stadium. Till date, this has been the only occasion when an Indian club has appeared in a tournament in Europe. Even though East Bengal lost both their matches in tournament, 1-0 against Leicester and 3-0 at the hands of Portugal’s Maritimo, it was clearly an honour for the red and gold brigade to be a part of such an event and definitely a proud moment for Indian football.

Vikash Dhorasoo

CL Runner-up With Milan

Vikash Dhorasoo was born in Harfleur, France but is actually of Indo-Mauritian origin belonging to the Telugu community. He started his professional career with Le Havre but his best spell was at Lyon where he spent five seasons and won two French league titles with them. Dhorasoo also spent one season at Italian giants AC Milan, with whom he won a Champions league runners-up medal in 2005. He won 18 caps for France at international level, including two substitute appearances in the 2006 World Cup.

Lakshmi Mittal

The steel tycoon is the single largest shareholder of West London club Queens Park Rangers. Back in 2007 after a £14 million takeover by Formula One multi-millionaires Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore, it was announced that the family of billionaire Lakshmi Mittal had purchased a 20 per cent shareholding in the club. Mittal's son-in-law Amit Bhatia also took a place on the board of directors as a part of the investment. The current chairman of the club is also an Indian businessman Ishan Saksena.

Chuni Goswami

One Of India's Greatest

The legendary Indian striker had an offer to play for Tottenham Hotspur back in the 1960’s. It is believed that he declined that chance as he did not want to leave his job at a Government bank. Chuni Goswami was without a doubt one of the best forwards of Asia during his playing days. He was part of the 1956 Olympics team that finished fourth and led India to gold medal in the 1962 Asian Games and runners-up finish in the 1964 Asian Cup.

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