Kozhikode: From a place where football does not have deep roots, a youngster has announced his arrival into the Indian Football. Gani Ahmed Nigam from Nadapuram plays as forward for Gokulam Kerala FC, the sole Kerala team in I-league.
Son of Faizal and Uznul Jamal, natives of Puthiyarackal in Nadapuram, Gani made his I-league debut against Kolkata giants Mohan Bagan at the Kozhikode corporation stadium.
“I was really nervous playing my first senior match in front of over 25,000 people,” Gani admitted. Gani’s performance justified coach Bino George’s faith in him as the team secured a draw against Bagan. Though he could not score, the match gave the newcomer a much needed confidence boost.
When Gokulam beat Shillong Lajong FC 3-1 last Sunday, Gani scored his first goal in the league and was named man of the match. The win was built on Gani’s 43rd minute strike that broke Lajong’s resolute defence. It was Gokulam’s first win of the season.
Gani started learning his trade at the tender age of 9 from the Olympian Rahman Academy in Purameri under coaches Pradeep and Surendran. Securing a spot in the state U-14 team encouraged Gani. Joining MSP School, Malappuram was the turning point in his life. When the school team reached in the finals of Subroto Cup held in New Delhi, Gani was their spearhead with six goals.
Later, Gani was selected to the Pune City FC Academy and became a part of their reserve team. Two years of training under the watchful eyes of foreign coaches refined his game. Last year, Gani secured a place in Pune City’s ISL team but did not get a chance to play.
In the new I-league season, Gokulam FC, which has always been providing opportunities to players from Kerala, secured the player's services.
“I-League is tougher than ISL and is a great platform for young players to prove their worth,” points out the 20-year-old who loves Barcelona and Chelsea. Gani is looking forward to the upcoming match against Minerva Punjab FC on Sunday. He also dreams to play for the national team one day.