April 10, 2021

Indian Football: When a young Khalid Jamil met Michel Platini in Kuwait

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The NorthEast United interim coach named former India national team coach Sukhwinder Singh as the best manager he had ever played under…

Indian football is very much aware of coach Khalid Jamil who took the entire fraternity by storm in 2017 when he guided underdogs Aizawl FC to a miraculous I-League win.

But not many speak about player Khalid Jamil as his playing career was short-lived due to multiple injuries. Jamil had represented the Indian national team, making his international debut in 1997.

He was a part of the victorious Indian squad in the SAFF Championship 1997 under coach Syed Nayemuddin. However, his all-time favourite coach is Sukhwinder Singh.

He said, “I made my senior national team debut in 1997 at the SAFF Cup which was held in Nepal. Our coach was Syed Nayemuddin. After that, I played under coach Sukhwinder Singh.

“The last time I played for India was during the 2002 World Cup qualifiers. Sukhwinder Singh was the best coach I have ever played under. I enjoyed the most playing under him. I played seven matches during the World Cup qualifiers against teams like UAE. There were several star players like IM Vijayan, Bhaichung Bhutia. I am thankful to Sukhwinder Singh that he had picked me in that team.”

Jamil also shared a very interesting anecdote about meeting legendary French footballer Michel Platini. The meeting happened while he was still living in Kuwait, his birthplace.

“There was a club in the area where I used to live. The Kuwait national team used to train in the club’s facility. In 1989 the French national team had come to play a friendly match against Kuwait. Michel Platini was the head of the French team at that time. I used to train with the U-14 team of the club and had attended some coaching camps. I had watched both France and Kuwaiti national sides train and was also the ball boy in the friendly match between the two countries. It was a memorable experience for me,” Jamil told Goal.

Other than former JCT and Indian national team coach Sukhwinder Singh, whom he adores, Jamil also looks up to two other managers who have had an impact in his coaching career according to the man himself.

“During my second stint at Mahindra United, we had won the Indian Super Cup, Mumbai league and stood third in the National Football League (NFL) in 2003-04 season under British coach David Booth. Club wise that period was the best time of my career. I learned discipline from Booth. Later at Mumbai FC during the 2008-09 season when Booth was in charge of the club, he had asked me to be his assistant manager at the club. That is how I was introduced to coaching.”

The interim NorthEast United coach also showed gratitude to former India coach Wim Koevermans under whom Jamil had also completed his AFC Pro License.

“From Wim Koevermans, I learned how to handle and work with players professionally. I did my AFC Pro License under Wim and it was a great learning experience for me as a coach,” said the I-League winning coach.