David Beckham is loved by people all over the world not only for his smoldering looks but also for his football skills.
David Beckham spammed the dead-ball during freekicks so often it is not even funny anymore. He led England to 2002 World Cup with that kick against Greece.
The angles at which Beckham could make the ball curve were insane.
Well India too has someone who can bend it like Beckham. And that young lad is Bengaluru’s Sanjeev Stalin.
Born in January 2001, Stalin is one amongst 21 under Luis Norton's tutelage in the final Indian team playing at FIFA U-17 world Cup being held, for the first time, in India.
Stalin is an invaluable member of the Indian squad as is India’s defender-in-chief.
Stalin isn’t playing only to fulfill his dream, but also of his father’s.
Satlin’s father represented Karnataka at the youth level, but he never went on to become the footballer that he always dreamed of becoming. Stalin considers him his hero and wants to realize the dream his father had.
Mr Stalin decided to take his son to Chandigarh when he was 8-years-old to drop him off at Chandigarh Football Academy (CFA) to fulfill the dream.
He was rejected for not meeting their expectations but returned two years back, prepared mentally and physically to get in come what may.
Stalin had to stay away from home from a very young age of 10.
“We are happy that all those efforts finally bore fruit,” Sanjeev’s mother Parmeshwari said in broken Hindi over phone from Bengaluru.
Stalin is now a freekick and dead-ball specialist and is adept at tricking opponents with his footwork since he is ambidexterous.
“My family always wanted me to play football and represent the nation. I am thankful to god that I have a family which supports me through thick and thin. My father made everything possible for me in life and he has been my biggest inspiration to never give up in life,” Sanjeev was quoted as saying on the All India Football Federation website.
However, he is unhappy that football is not given its due in India. “The problem is nobody knows about Indian football. Nobody knows how good we can play. When the World Cup kicks off, you will see the difference in the way we play football. Everyone will know that India can play football,” Sanjeev had told TOI before the FIFA campaign.
Stalin does not hail from an affluent family though. His mother has a clothes shop on a footpath and his father works at the Central Government Health Scheme. But this did not stop the senior Stalin from encouraging his son to take up football.
The Stalins also thank CFA for making Sanjeev what he is today. At CFA, which takes care of boarding, education and other finances, Stalin came into his own. He slowly built his game there and is now known for his controlled precision deliveries, speed, and excels at set pieces, his coaches at the academy told Scroll.
Now, Stalin is held in high esteem by new coach Luis Norton de Matos. In fact, he was among the four players the Portuguese coach believed had the potential to lead India at the World Cup.
However, his goal is now to man the central defending position and see his team through in the FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign.