Top 10 Indian and Indian-origin youth footballers playing abroad
Brandon Fernandes (ASD Cape Town)
A product of the Salgaocar youth system, Brandon impressed in the Manchester United premier cup and was offered a scholarship by South Africa’s ASD Cape Town in 2011. The midfielder, whose playing style has been compared to that of Xavi Hernandez by his former Salgaocar youth coach, became an overnight celebrity when he was offered a trial by EPL outfit Reading. The India youth international also had trials at Leicester City and his progress is still monitored by many English Championship clubs. His success at ASD has also seen three more Salgaocar youth players join the South African club’s academy.
Malvind Benning (Walsall FC)
Born in Sandwell, West Midlands of England, the 19-year-old left back started his youth career at League One outfit Walsall FC and progressed through their youth system before earning his first professional contract last year. He also had a loan spell at Southern Football League side Evesham United and was rewarded by Walsall with a new two-and-a-half year deal earlier this year.
Pratik Shinde (Houston Hurricanes)
The story of 17-year-old Pratik Shinde should act as an inspiration for any budding sportsperson. Born and raised in the slum areas of Chembur, Mumbai, Pratik landed a contract with Texas-based Galveston Pirates, a semi-professional team in USA’s fourth-tier National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) at the age of 15. Galveston Pirates has been re-branded as Houston Hurricanes FC and Pratik is living his American Dream there now.
Yan Dhanda (Liverpool)
The 14-year-old Birmingham-born youngster was first spotted at Chelsea’s ‘Search for an Asian Star’ in 2010 but had been with the West Brom academy since the age of nine after spending time at Walsall, Aston Villa and Birmingham City previously. Dhanda, who is learning to play in different positions in attack, made headlines this July when he signed for Liverpool and thus become the first player of Indian origin to join the five-time European champions.
Dylal Lall (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Born in Croydon, south London, 17-year-old Dylan is currently on a youth contract with English Championship outfit Brighton & Hove Albion and has been with the Seagulls for more than five years now. Dylan, who can operate both as a left back and centre back, has represented the south of England at U-16 level but told Sportskeeda back in May that he is open to playing for the country of his origin, India.
Jhai Dhillon (Stevenage FC)
Jhai is another British Indian defender who earned a one-year professional contract with League One side Stevenage FC back in June. The 18-year-old joined Stevenage back in 2009 after being one of the winners of Chelsea’s ‘Search for an Asian Star’. He has also had a loan spell at Evostik Southern Premier Division side Hitchin Town and has even played futsal for Khalsa Football Academy’s senior side.
Myron Mendes (ASD Cape Town)
Myron is another Goan-born ASD Cape Town scholar who has represented India at u-13, u-14, u-15 and u-16 levels. The 17-year-old is a very versatile player and is comfortable with both feet. Thus he can operate on both flanks either as a defender or midfielder. He was spotted by ASD during his days in the Salgaocar youth team and has been described by the South African club’s technical staff as a ‘modern day attacking full-back’.
Aldrich Coelho (ASD Cape Town)
16-year-old Aldrich is the youngest of the Salgaocar trio that joined ASD Cape Town on a scholarship earlier this year. The versatile attacker represented Salgaocar in the 2010 Manchester United Premier Cup and helped them win the Indian leg. The Margao-born lad was also selected in the India under-15 team for a tour of Spain but eventually couldn’t go due to visa issues.
Amarjit Singh (ASD Cape Town)
Amarjit was born in Sarhalakhurd, Punjab but joined Salgaocar’s youth team after spells at Mahilpur and Paldi academies. The talented midfielder is only 18 and missed out on a call up to the India junior team this year due to his ongoing scholarship at ASD Cape Town. According to the ASD technical staff, Amarjit both has the physical presence and technical quality.
Joshua Pynadath (Real Madrid)
Real Madrid beat off competition from arch-rivals Barcelona to sign this 11-year-old Indian American back in August. Pynadath is a talented attacker and his favourite player is current Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. The record nine-time European champions signed the wonder kid for a minimum one-year deal to join their academy after two trials. Pynadath spent some time at Barcelona’s La Masia academy too during his trial there but eventually was delighted to join Real Madrid.