Izumi Arata could become the first naturalised Indian to play for the senior national football team. A Japanese by birth, the multi-utility Pune FC player got his Indian passport on Wednesday making him eligible for selection.
“Since I am in New Delhi for the Durand Cup, my wife received the passport back home in Pune. Believe me, it took tremendous patience and repeated follow-ups as the entire procedure was quite tedious. Since I was out playing most of the time, my wife (who is Indian) had to do all the running around. It explains why she was more excited that I was,” Arata, 30, told HT.
Arata said the process of surrendering his Japanese citizenship and getting an Indian passport took him nearly a year. He has been playing as a professional in India since 2006 representing East Bengal and the now-disbanded Mahindra United before joining Pune FC in 2009.