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5 best Players of Indian Origin in world football

Harmeet Singh
Harmeet Singh at the Asian Football awards
Faizan Qadiri

Recently, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Indian National team following their 2-1 loss at the hands of Guam in the World Cup qualifiers. One of the most intriguing issues to arise from this episode was whether Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) should play for India.Manager Stephen Constantine seems to be siding with the pro-PIO side of the story. Whether or not the AIFF is able to resolve this matter, it is a story that will keep the football fraternity interested for a long time to come.We look at the five such players who can play for the team and be influential in doing so.

#1 Harmeet Singh - Norway

Age: 24Position: Defensive MidfielderClub: MoldeInternational appearances: 7

Born in Norway, this 24-year-old was named in a list of 100 greatest talents in the world back in 2010. He started off his career with Valerenga in Norway coming through their youth ranks. He broke into the first team in 2007 and went on to make over a century of appearances for the Norwegian side. In 2012, he moved to the Dutch Eredivisie with Feyenoord.

Following a lack of opportunity, Singh moved back to Norway with Molde. In his two years with Molde, he has already amassed 49 appearances for the club.

On the international level, Singh has played for Norway in every age category starting from the U-15's to the U-21's. He made his debut for the senior team in 2009 and has gone on to make six more appearances.

Singh was quoted saying, “If India want me to play for them, then it would be no problem for me to sit down with them and discuss it. There has never been an approach, and I don't even know whether I could play for them because I don't have an Indian passport.

“I have the life-long visa, but not a passport.” He operates as a defensive midfielder and since India have only Dhanpal Ganesh in that position Harmeet might actually have a shot at playing for India.

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#2 Michael Chopra - England

Michael Chopra
Michael Chopra shares a laugh with former teammate Stephen Taylor

Age: 31Position: StrikerClub: Alloa AthleticInternational appearances: 0

Micheal Chopra was born in England to an Indian father which made him the first player of Indian origin to play in the English Premier League. He has played on both sides on Tyne-Wear derby – Newcastle United and Sunderland. But he was most successful with Cardiff City in his two stints at the club scoring 63 goals in 157 appearances for the Welsh club.

Chopra also had spells with Nottingham Forest, Ipswich Town and Blackpool and was also a part of the inaugural Indian Super League with the Kerala Blasters in 2014.

The 31-year-old represented England at all youth levels where he accumulated 27 caps between 1997 and 2003. However, he was unable to break into the senior team for the Three Lions.

Chopra has expressed his desire to play for India many times and was quoted saying that he is ready to give up his British passport to fulfil that dream. Playing as a striker he has scored 118 times in his career, which is a good return for a player playing at that level.

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#3 Netan Sansara - England

Netan Sansara
Netan Sansara has the potential of becoming an integral part of the INdian team
Age: 25
Position: Defender
Club: Fredrikstad FKInternational appearances: 0

Netan Sansara started his career at Walsall FC as a trainee while studying Psychology, Physical Education and Biology. He graduated to the first team at Walsall and went on to make 40 appearances in the league for the English side before moving to Dundee in 2010 at the age of just 20. His time at Dundee did not last long as he was released in four months from the Scottish side. He had to play for Telford United without an actual contract with the club.

The following year he signed a contract in Cyprus with PAEEK, where he would go on to make a 26 out of the 27 matches PAEEK played, missing one game because of suspension. His performances for PAEEK were so impressive that he was selected for the Player of the Year award at the Asian football awards. After short spells with FC Vestsjællan and Boston United, Sansara finally signed for Norwegian club Fredrikstad FK in 2014.

Sansara has represented the English junior teams 3 times since getting his first cap against Holland. He was also called up by India for an international friendly against Qatar as a warm-up for the World Cup Qualifier. He is a hard tackling defender with a brilliant left foot.

With his experience, India might have a who can handle high-pressure situations, which are likely to come up as they enter the business end of the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Championship Qualifiers.

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#4 Rajiv van La Parra - Netherlands

Van La Parra
Van La Parra playing for Wolves against Birmingham

Age: 24Position: Striker, WingerClub: Wolverhampton WanderersInternational appearances: 0

Named after an Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv van La Parra came through the famous Feyenoord youth system. However, he was unable to break into the first team at the famous club. He moved to French club Caen in 2008 but was not able to make an impact there either. His next destination was back in Holland with Heerenveen where he played 94 times for scoring 16 goals.

In 2014, Van La Parra rejected a contract extension and decided to try his luck in England with English Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers. In his very first match, he picked up the man of the match trophy against Norwich.

He has represented Holland in the U-17, U-19 and U-21 levels but has not been able to break into the senior team yet.

Van La Parra is a versatile player who can operate as a striker and in a wider position as well. He has good pace and is very skillful with the ball at his feet. If India do change their stance on PIO’s, he is someone they might be able to convince to play for the National team.

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#5 Furdjel Narsingh - Netherlands

Furdjel Narsingh
Furdjel Narsingh while playing for Zwolle

Age: 27Position: WingerClub: CambuurInternational appearances: 0

Furdjel Narsingh is the older brother of Holland international Luciano Narsingh. While Luciano has played for the Dutch National team, making him ineligible, Furdjel still has the option of choosing India as his international team. This would not be the first time where two brothers play for two different countries.

Narsingh played his youth football at European giants such as Ajax and AZ Alkmaar. He started his career with AZ before moving to Zwolle in 2011. At Zwolle, he helped the team gain promotion to the Eredivisie in 2012. The very next year he helped the club win the KNVB Cup for the very first time in the clubs history. In his 3 years at the club, the 27-year-old made 41 league appearances scoring 7 goals for Zwolle. In 2014, he signed with Eredivisie side Cambuur.

Narsingh is not tied to Holland since he hasn't represented them on the international stage as such is available for selection for the Indian National team.

Narsingh usually operates as a winger and is comfortable on either foot. He is quick and accurate with his crossing. He could definitely add the oomph factor to the Indian team should he decide to on switching allegiances.

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Edited by Staff Editor

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