Sunday, September 02, 2007

NP Pradeep: From pauper to Prince of Indian football

By P I Rajeev / Indian Express
KOCHI, AUGUST 30: A bit dazed by all the back-thumping and adulation ever since he landed at the airport here this morning from New Delhi, Naduparambil Pappachen Pradeep is still to come to terms with his overnight stardom in this soccer-crazy state.
It’s been a long journey for Indian soccer’s best defender in recent years, whose one blistering long ranger fetched India the Nehru Cup last night: from a frail school kid who learnt to go without food on occasions when his labourer-parents could find no work, to the tearful 16-year-old who nearly abandoned his soccer dreams because he didn’t have the money to buy a pair of football shoes.
Even his passport application fee had to be paid for by his village football club in Thodupuzha before he put on the India Under-19 colours in 2001. And this ex-captain of India’s under-23 team lives in an unfinished little hut that he had begun constructing with the Rs 28,000 that the local Moolamattom panchayat had given him.
“It was tough, very tough. I really had to struggle to remain with football until the State Bank of Travancore team took me in,” said Pradeep, who now plays for Mahindra United.
“Football is what the poor play, the rich have cricket, and the difference shows” says I M Vijayan, former Indian soccer ace who himself had come up from as poor a background.
Pradeep had played with him for Kerala once in the National Football Championship, before Vijayan retired.
“Take my word, this boy is a great player, a total footballer, probably the best among the country’s younger crop. There aren’t many who can shoot as good as him with both the left and the right,” says Vijayan.
Ironically, Pradeep could not make it to even his college football team while he did his pre-degree at the Kerala Varma College in Thrissur, where Vijayan was his senior. “I dithered. I wasn’t sure if I could really afford to get into football then,” says Pradeep. But things changed after someone spotted the youngster at a youth camp that the Kerala Football Association held in Thodupuzha, and his friends pitched in to help.
As he prepares to fly off to Mumbai tomorrow to join his team, Pradeep has only one regret — that his father, who toiled hard in the village farms to let him chase his dream, is not around.
He died a week before Pradeep was asked to join the national squad’s conditioning camp for the Nehru Cup.
Pradeep says he dedicated his goal last night to his father.

4 comments:

Govindan said...

Thanks for the post John. You said it right. Coz of the hype of cricket, lot of other deserving guys having candid talent are being ignored.

Govindan said...

Thanks for the post John. You said it right. Coz of the hype of cricket, lot of other deserving guys having candid talent are being ignored.

mervin said...

its exactly correct n.p will take india to new heights..........he is a real champ

Madhu said...

NP Pradeep has shown characteristically how footballers are discouraged and to an extent back stabbed by the money hungry cricketers.......

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