Who is Manisha Kalyan, the first Indian to play in UEFA Women's Champions League?
Young striker Manisha Kalyan became the first Indian footballer to play at the UEFA Women's Champions League when she made her debut for Apollon Ladies FC in the European Club competition in Engomi, Cyprus.
In a historic moment for Indian football, young striker Manisha Kalyan became the first footballer from the country to play in the UEFA Women's Champions League when she made her debut for Apollon Ladies FC in the European Club competition in Engomi, Cyprus.
Manisha Kalyan replaced Cyprus' Marilena Georgiou in the 60th minute at the Makareio Stadium, as Apollon Ladies FC beat Latvian top flight club SFK Riga 3-0 in their UWCL opener on Thursday.
The 20-year-old became the fourth Indian woman footballer to sign for an overseas club when she landed a multi-year contract with Cypriot top division winners Apollon Ladies.
"Competitions like the Champions League are what every player would have dreamt of playing, and the thought of getting a chance to play it is thrilling. From my end, I'm prepared to give my 100 per cent to play the Champions League and help my team do well," said Manisha Kalyan after signing her contract with Apollon Ladies FC.
Manisha Kalyan had produced impressive performances for the national team and Gokulam Kerala in the Indian Women's League (IWL). She was recently awarded the AIFF Woman Footballer of the Year for the 2021-22 season.
For Manisha Kalyan, it was her first Women's Footballer of the Year award. She won the Women's Emerging Footballer of the Year in the 2020-21 season.
"Manisha has come up with some outstanding performances for the National Team and her club. She has scored goals, and also assisted on a regular basis," women's national team coach Thomas Dennerby said.
"Blessed with excellent speed and being a good dribbler, she has the potential to play in bigger leagues in the future. She's young, and still developing but has been our best player," Dennerby added.
Manisha Kalyan had shot to fame last year when she scored against former World Cup runners-up Brazil in their den during an international friendly. She believes that with the kind of progress the country's women's team has made in recent times, more Indian players can make such moves in the future.
"Our girls have improved a lot. I feel there are girls in the team who can do even better. Such moves will only help the national team to improve further in the future," she told the All India Football Federation earlier.
"I hope that I can inspire some of the younger girls to work harder and make their own moves in the future as well," she had added.
Manisha Kalyan feels that her recent exposure with the national team has helped her gain the experience and confidence to take such steps. The attacker has also adapted well to the new environment that offers her a different playing style.
On her move to the Cypriot capital, Manisha Kalyan had said, "The playing style is a little different here. It will take a little time to adapt, but I am really enjoying the intensity of training here. My teammates have been really friendly and approachable, so I am hopeful that we will all gel together."
Having been a part of the national team setup since her U-17 days, Manisha Kalyan has gotten used to staying away from home for long camps. However, moving to a new country is an entirely new ball game.
"I've been quite used to staying away from home while playing for the national team. What made it easy was that we were all like a second family," Manisha Kalyan had stated earlier.
Manisha Kalyan is the second player from Gokulam Kerala to sign for an overseas club after Dangmei Grace joined Uzbek outfit FC Nasaf. Apollon Ladies will next play FC Zurich Frauen on August 21.
Meanwhile, several football fans took to Twitter to congratulate Manisha on creating history. Here's a look at some of the reactions on the microblogging site:
(With inputs from PTI)