Mumbai: On October 26, one footballer was making the headlines in the cricketing citadel. No, we are not talking about Thierry Henry's visit to India. While Henry held Mumbai spellbound on Wednesday. In Pune, a little away from Mumbai, a young Indian footballer, Md. Ashique Kuruniyan was making all the right noises.
The FC Pune City youth product has been selected by Spanish club Villarreal to play for their third team on loan. In La Liga, Villarreal sits fifth, behind Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla.
Ashique is not the first Indian to make it to Europe. Recently, Ishan Pandita signed a professional contract with CD Leganes in La Liga. The current Indian skipper, Sunil Chhetri has earlier played for Sporting Lisbon B. However, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu remains the only Indian player to have made a mark in Europe.
Ashique has got all the potential. He has played for India U-18 and U-19, also helped Pune FC U-19 team to finish runners up in the 2014-15 I-League season. Pune FC's academy has now been acquired by the ISL club.
In an interview with Deccan Chronicle, the 19-year-old spoke about his football journey, which began with Vision India football programme in Malappuram.
"I was in the sixth standard when I gave the trial for Vision India. I got selected and trained with them for three years, after that I moved to Pune FC and later joined the academy of FC Pune City," said Kuruniyan.
The teenager hopes to improve his game and has set himself the ambitious target to move up from Villarreal's third team.
"I will have an opportunity to play with high quality players at Villarreal. It is also an opportunity to train under some of the best coaches, I want to learn as much as I can.''
"My plan is to improve my game and move up from Villarreal's third team. I want to improve the technical aspect of my game and training with Villarreal team will also allow me to improve my decision making."
Indians are crazy about cricket, but things are not the same with Ashique.
"I don't watch a lot of cricket and I don't like it that much. Since my childhood, I have always wanted to become a footballer"
The FC Pune City footballer, who comes from a humble background claims his family has always supported his cause.
"My parents have always supported my decision to play football, all of them are very happy for me."
Kuruniyan is a huge fan of Barcelona player Lionel Messi and hopes to see him playing in Spain.
"I am hoping to see few La Liga games in Spain. I am a huge fan of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo."...