SRINAGAR: A Kashmiri footballer falls in The Guardian list of 60 best young talents in world football in 2022. The British newspaper, one of the most respected publications in London and the oldest one, is carrying out a survey every year and an Indian footballer has been there for the last three consecutive years.
Identified as Suhail Ahmad Bhat, the Kashmir footballer is associated with the Indian Arrows Football Club.
This hard-working striker was identified as one of the brightest talents in the Kashmir region even before he was a teenager. Willing to run at defenders and full of self-belief, he has excelled at every youth level he has been thrown into so far. He has scored on his Under-16 debut for India against the United Arab Emirates in 2021. There are high hopes that the 17-year-old player will eventually be the long-term successor of India’s striking legend Sunil Chhetri.
Suhail was born on April 8, 2005, and he currently plays as a forward for Indian Arrows. In 2017, Bhat joined the Sports Council Football Academy after he got selected from a football camp in Srinagar.
The Guardian’s coveted list comprises top players from different countries.
Suhail Bhat’s Wikipedia page reveals that he was first called up for the Indian national under-16 football team in 2021, scoring on his debut against the United Arab Emirates
Last Year, The Goal reported Suhail was in a quandary when AIFF ( All India Football Federation) offered him an opportunity. He has always dreamt of representing India on the international stage, and yet he was in a dilemma before putting pen to paper, as he thought his studies would take a backseat if he went on to join the India U16 squad.
However, he soon proved himself to be too good for his age. Mehrajuddin Wadoo, the academy-in-charge, decided to promote him to U15. After spending almost a year he was once again promoted and this time to the U18 team.
“We had our eyes on him because he was showing a lot of promise. He has a good height and is well-built. Mujhe laga yeh aagey jayega ( I felt that he would go forward in his career),” The Goal quoted Wadoo as having said.
The youngster had played in the youth leagues of AIFF but Dar and Wadoo wanted to test him against more senior opposition and fielded him in the Premier Division of the Jammu and Kashmir state football league. After watching him excel against the big boys, both his coaches felt that he can break through into the India U16 squad. In the follow-up, they connected with coach Bibiano Fernandes and requested a trial. Bhat went to Goa and within a few training sessions, Fernandes was impressed.
Suhail Bhat was a student of class 1 0 at Shah-i-Hamdan Educational Institute, Bemina, Srinagar. He has always excelled in school. But his passion for football finally got the better of him and the 15-year-old agreed to join the India U16 side.
“He is a very serious student and good in academics. But I let him join because AIFF provides the best platform to grow. There were other teams willing to sign him in Kashmir but I thought it would be best for him to join AIFF’s set-up,” Sajid Dar, Suhail’s coach and Jammu & Kashmir Sports Council Football Academy’s honorary technical director, told The Goal.
In 2017, he was selected as a forward from the Srinagar camp in the U-13 category.
“The only difference between success and failure is the ability to take action,” Suhail has put the line on his Twitter account. “Tomorrow is never promised. Make today beautiful.”