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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Football

India’s top shot-stopper Subrata gets a Danish deal
Dhiman Sarkar, Hindustan Times
Chennai, November 17, 2013
First Published: 23:27 IST(17/11/2013)
Last Updated: 23:33 IST(17/11/2013)

India’s top shot-stopper Subrata Pal has been offered a six-month contract with Danish Superliga football team FC Vestsjaelland. He has been asked to report on January 3, two days after the winter transfer window opens.

Formed in 2008, the club is based in Slagelse in east Denmark. Also known as FCV Vikings, FC Vestsjaelland qualified to the top tier this season. They are now seventh in the 12-team Denmark league with 20 points from 15 rounds after five wins, losses and draws each.

First Indian

If the deal works out — Pal would need to be loaned by his current employers IMG-Reliance — he would be the first Indian playing professionally in Europe since Sunil Chhetri went to Sporting Lisbon B in 2012. Bhaichung Bhutia is the only other Indian to have been a professional in Europe with Manchester’s Bury FC from 1999-2002.

“It has always been a dream to play in Europe and I am delighted that a top club has offered me the chance,” Pal, 26, told HT on Sunday over the phone from Kolkata.

Pal said he left for trials with Vestajaelland on October 20 and returned on Saturday. Pal, who endorses Red Bull, had a four-week training stint with Red Bull Leipzig in 2012.

Most expensive

“Their main team coach and director and the goalkeepers’ coach liked my performance and before I left, offered to take me,” said the goalkeeper brought into prominence by former India coach Bob Houghton in the 2007 Nehru Cup. He has been India’s most expensive goalie since.

Pal’s save in the final shot of the tie-breaker against Syria also gave India the 2009 Nehru Cup before a packed Ambedkar Stadium.

Pal was part of the AFC Challenge Cup winning campaign in 2008, which helped India qualify for the 2011 Asian Cup finals, a first in 27 years.

For his performance against South Korea in the Asian Cup finals, Pal was called “Superman” by the international media. He also played in the 2013 SAFF Championships last September where India finished runners-up.

This season, Pal signed for the franchise-based league that has since been deferred to September 2014.


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