Indian Football Transfers: Kerala's budding star to follow in Sahal Abdul Samad's footsteps?
Calicut-born footballer Zayed Bin Waleed, who has been playing in the United Arab Emirates, may soon sign with an Indian club in the coming days.
Having spent a large part of his childhood in Abu Dhabi, Zayed played for academies based in the UAE like the Manchester United Soccer School and Manchester City School of Football. But it was in Al Ethihad Sports Academy that Zayed happened to play with Kerala Blasters star Sahal Abdul Samad, who was named the Emerging Player of the ISL 2018-19 season.
Taking a cue from Sahal, Zayed is now exploring his options to play in India after graduating from the Abu Dhabi Indian School. He was, after all, named the Most Promising Talent and Most Skilful Player at the academy last season.
Zayed was previously called up to try out for the Indian team for the FIFA U-17 World Cup but missed out as he was 120 days younger than the minimum age limit set by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
In the UAE, Zayed made waves with his performances in the Du LaLiga, the school championship held in partnership with LaLiga. Boys scouted from the programme receive training by UEFA-certified LaLiga coaches in Dubai and also get to visit, training and play some youth academies in Spain.
Having been scouted for the Du LaLiga High Performance Centre in the Under-16 category, Zayed went twice to Spain and got the experience of playing against the youth teams of Cadiz, Sevilla, Almeria, Granada, Real Betis and Malaga. He also trained with Abu Dhabi-based clubs Al Jazira FC and Al Nasr before his induction into the Du LaLiga High Performance Centre.
ISL clubs calling?
Now, Zayed is looking to return to India to kick-start his professional career and has signed up with Inventive Sports UK. The player will fly down soon to give a trial with some of the best Indian Super League (ISL) clubs like Jamshedpur FC and Kerala Blasters. He has also been called to try out for Indian Arrows as well. He would first start with the developmental side of the club and then look to progress to the senior team.
Zayed is primarily a midfielder who can also play in the position of the right winger. A left-footed player, Zayed has good passing and dribbling abilities and just like Sahal, he's got the great ball control and vision. He is adept at taking free-kicks, penalties and corners too.
Could he just follow in Sahal's footsteps and head to his home state?