Wednesday, February 21, 2024

From Manchester to SAFF hero

When Faisal Ahmed blocked India’s fourth penalty diving to his right, he became an instant hero, as Bangladesh defeated India by 4-2 in the tie-breaker to lift their maiden SAFF Under-16 title on Tuesday. But the 15-year old shot stopper is not a stranger in Bangladesh’s football circle having already trained at one of the most famous clubs in the world, Manchester United, in 2013.Born in Arpinagar of Sunamganj district, Faisal, youngest of seven siblings, demonstrated his football skills at the very early age. Ever since his elder brother Jonik Mia presented him his first football, he fell in love with the game, which just increased with time.
His story is unlike many other goalkeepers, who are forced to stand under the sticks only after they fail to find a place upfront. He rather wanted to become a goalkeeper from the very beginning of his life and caught the attention of local admirers with his sheer talent.
He was hired for many local matches since he was a student of class eight. The turning point of his life came when he was selected by mobile operator company Airtel for a one-week training at Manchester United in 2013.
Faisal was one of the 12 lucky boys to get a chance to visit Old Trafford and train at United’s famous training ground Carrington. Airtel initially choose 200 young players through a competition and trimmed down the list to 12 through phase by phase.
Faisal demonstrated his skill at every stage to get a chance to earn a trip to ‘Theater of Dreams’.
His heart was about to be broken when Airtel mistakenly chose another Faisal that left him disqualified. However they realised their mistake soon and took the goalkeeper to Manchester-bound flight.
After becoming one of Airtel Rising Stars, Faisal started to take football seriously and he received further boost in his career when he was included in Bangladesh Under-15 squad.
A fan of German national team goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, Faisal delivered with some fine saves throughout SAFF Under-16 championship before finally emerging as the hero in the tie-breaker.
‘I was carrying the burden of the whole country on my shoulders. It’s terrific that I saved a penalty to win the game and tournament,’ Faisal told reporters in Sylhet on Wednesday.
‘During the shoot-out, I looked at the stands and thought about the fans. And for them, I thought that I must have to save the goals’, said Faisal.
Speaking about the experience of SAFF football, he said that football is his life and he wants to live with it.
‘All I can say is that football is in my lifeblood,’ said Faisal. ‘I want to become a good footballer’.

-With New Age input

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