Football over the years has given birth to many rags to riches stories, whether it was the great Diego Maradona or Arsenal legend Ian Wright, talented players from across the world have found a new lease of life in the world’s most popular sport. 14-year-old Manikandan, who went from being a beggar in Kerala to a footballer in Real Madrid, is the prime example of how talent and hard work can help those with little means to turn around their lives.
From beggar in Kerala streets to footballer in Real Madrid, Manikandan has made the impossible come true
Manikandan was rescued by an organisation for children from the streets at the age of 11 where he was found begging with his sister and an elderly lady. After being questioned about their whereabouts, the lady left the kids behind to be taken to a rescue home for boys and girls in Kollam. Just 3 years later, Manikandan is all set to travel to Spanish capital Madrid, for a month-long visit, where he will be training with some of the stars of the 2-time defending Champions League winners Real Madrid.
R Sreekumar, who is the supervisor at children’s home where Manikandan stayed after being rescued in 2011 speaks highly of the talent the 14-year-old possess. As reported by Hindustan Times, Sreekumar said, “Manikandan dribbles the ball with the dexterity of a rubber doll and defends the opponent ferociously.”
With the facilities not at it’s best at the rescue home, the boys were taken to Fathima Mata College grounds. This is where coach MP Abhilash, who was in charge of training the senior boys noticed the young man’s talent and invited him to play with the senior team. This is where life finally took a positive turn for the teenager.
Speaking of the young boy’s talent and the potential he has to become a superstar in the game, coach Abhilash says, “I spotted him in last February. In just one year, he has improved brilliantly and I feel if he’s groomed well he will be an asset to the country, His technique and agility are superb and his height adds to his prowess.”
Manikandan is currently representing the district and Football Plus Professional Soccer Academy in Chennai in the under-16 age bracket. Like every passionate football player in this country, Manikandan also hopes to don the Indian jersey in the years to come. After his month-long training camp in Madrid, the officials who are sponsoring his trip, hope to send him to the US or Latin America for a high-performance training camp.
While speaking about the efforts of his coaches and their belief in him, Manikandan said, “Football is a passion for me. I owe everything to my coach and supervisor of the children’s home. They encouraged me well and stood by my side.”
We at Rooter wish the young talented Manikandan the best for the future and hope to see him score a lot of goals for the national team very soon.