Sports Home Football News Arata Izumi becomes first foreign national to be selected for Indian football team

Arata Izumi becomes first foreign national to be selected for Indian football team

Born to an Indian father and Japanese mother, Arata had an Indian birth certificate, but he became a Japanese citizen after his parents separated.

Indo-Asian News Service  |  Last updated on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 20:01 Print font size - +

New Delhi:  Japanese Arata Izumi has become the first foreign national to be selected for the Indian football team.

The Pune FC midfielder, who had given up his Japanese citizenship and got his Indian passport in August, found a place in the 23-member India squad selected by Ducth coach Wim Koevermans for the international friendly against Palestine in Kochi slated for February 6. Arata was also registered as an Indian player in the Durand Cup last year.

Born to an Indian father and Japanese mother, Arata had an Indian birth certificate, but he became a Japanese citizen after his parents separated.

Arata first came to India as East Bengal's foreign recruit and then moved to Mahindra United. Former Mahindra coach Derek Pereira took the Japanese along with him when he joined Pune FC. In the past he had played for Singapore club Albirex Nagata and then for Mitsubishi Migushima.

Arata has taken up an Indian name of Neelkanth Khambholja and has also got married to an Indian girl, Shweta Manerikar.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) in the past had made attempts to include Indian origin footballers like former Sunderland striker Michael Chopra in the national team but failed to do so. A government order in 2010 ruled that only Indian passport holders can represent the country.

Meanwhile, Koevermans, under whom India had won the Nehru Cup in September, maintained it is a very important match for India.

"We need to assess ourselves. We need more such matches," he said.

India captain Sunil Chhetri said, "Unless you play international friendlies you cannot gauge where you stand. We stay grateful to AIFF for arranging the match. The passion for the sport in the Kerala stays unparalleled and we expect a full house cheering for us against Palestine."

For the latest Sports news, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and get the NDTV Cricket app for Android or iOS

Story first published on: Tuesday, 29 January 2013 19:12

IPL 2014: Catch all the action here

Leave a comment

 

More from NDTV

 

More from Web