Footballer Pradeep to go to Cyprus for trials

August 6th, 2008 - 7:58 pm ICT by IANS  

By Abhishek Roy
Hyderabad, Aug 6 (IANS) Indian footballers have started aiming big. They have realised that the only way to improve skills is to play overseas. And India midfielder N.P. Pradeep has decided to take the plunge by playing professional football in Europe. The 25-year-old central mid-fielder has been called for trials in Cyprus and he is determined to go.

“The offer came last season only but an injury in the Durand Cup prevented me from going. But this year I will surely go for the trials,” Pradeep told IANS a day.

“Look at the teams in our Group A at the ongoing Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup. They all have foreign-based players and that’s why they gave us a tough time. Afghanistan had two players, who play in lower division clubs in Germany and that made a big difference to their game in the first match against us. We were lucky to win it 1-0,” he added.

Pradeep has come up the hard way in life, he has even seen his mother selling his sister’s gold chain to buy him a pair of football boots.

“I have seen utmost poverty. My father passed away last year and he worked as a loader in a wood-cutting company. I am also grateful to my first club Unity Soccer Club for giving me the opportunity to play. Since my debut in professional soccer with State Bank of Travancore in 2006, my life has changed and I have never looked back,” he said.

Pradeep has come a long way from his struggling days in Thodupuzha in Kerala to become one of the highest-paid Indian footballers. But that doesn’t stop him from moving up the ladder.

“I think I will stop growing if I feel satisfied with what I have achieved. I always want to set new benchmarks for myself,” he said.

The Mahindra United mid-fielder, who is in the midst of an ongoing battle after he signed for East Bengal for a huge amount, said that Indian players should venture out of India and play even in lower division clubs.

“Everyone knows about the standard of football in Europe. It will make a lot of difference to our game. In the past even Ancheri and Vijayan bhai had the ability to move out, but they never did and I think that was a big mistake. Bhaichung has showed us the way,” said Pradeep, who captained India in its maiden AFC Challenge Cup in 2006.

Pradeep’s case is still with the players’ status committee of All India Football Federation (AIFF) and he will know whether he will turn out for the Kolkata out-fit in the coming season only after the

“It is a dream of every footballer to play for East Bengal and Mohun Bagan and in front of a big crowd. And I am no different, but East Bengal is a temporary base for me because my target is to move to Europe,” he added.

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