Srinagar: Suhail Bhat, a football player from Kashmir, said it was an honour to be included in The Guardian’s list of 60 of the top young talents in the world, and he promised to strive even harder to find greater success.
The Guardian, a national British newspaper, listed Suhail Bhat, 17, among the 60 top young talents in the world. The list includes some of the best players in the world of football who were born in 2005 and who play for some of the most prestigious clubs in the world.
The Guardians, Asian correspondent John Duerden termed Suhail Bhat as the next Sunil Chhetri of Indian football.
“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 – scoring on his Under-16 debut for India against the United Arab Emirates in 2021 – meaning that there are high hopes that the 17-year-old will eventually be the long-term successor of India’s striking legend Sunil Chhetri,” John Duerden wrote about Suhail in the 60 of the best young talents in World column.
Suhail who played for Indian Arrows (developmental side of AIFF) in the I-League is the only one from India to feature in the list.
The talented 17-year-old footballer hails from the Bemina area of Srinagar city. He started his football journey with the Sports Council Football Academy Under-13 side.
Suhail Bhat was called to India’s U-16 side last year. In his debut against the United Arab Emirates in 2021, the striker found the back of the net.
He made his I-League debut against Sudeva Delhi on March 4- 2022 for Indian Arrows.
He made seven appearances for Indian Arrows during the 2021-22 season.
Currently, in Kolkata with India’s Under-20 side for the AFC campaign, Suhail said that it is a proud moment for him and the whole Indian football to be named on the list.
“I am proud to see myself in the list that features some of the talents reckoned highly in the World of football. Some of the players in the list are termed as the next big thing of World football and are already with big clubs,” Suhail told Greater Kashmir.
“To be compared with the person to whom everyone in Indian football looks as inspiration is a big thing. This gives extra motivation to work hard and achieve something. To reach even close to Sunil Chhetri’s level, one needs to give his best and I will try to do that,” Suhail said on being termed as the next Sunil Chhetri.
The young striker said that he wouldn’t have been in the Indian football arena without the support of his family.
“I owe a lot to my family who kept supporting and motivating me. Without them, I wouldn’t have been here. My father Mohammad Abdullah Bhat was himself a local footballer and knew that it needs a lot of hardwork and dedication to achieve something. He kept supporting me at every level,” Suhail said.
Former India International and Sports Council football coach Mehraj ud Din Wadoo termed Suhail a bright prospect who can do wonders for Indian football.
“He is a talented player and has the potential to be a top player. He needs to work hard. He was with SCFA since its establishment. Coach Ali Muhammad has trained him in Under 13 level and then he was promoted to the senior team of SCFA by me,” Mehraj said.
“He played with us for two years in the senior team before going to the National team where he scored a goal also in Dubai,” Wadoo added.