July 26, 2021

Dhanda: Classy Choudhury ‘proud’ of his identity

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Leicester midfielder Hamza Choudhury is a fantastic footballer who is fiercely proud of his identity, fellow British South Asian player Yan Dhanda has told Sky Sports News

Dhanda and Choudhury are the highest-profile British South Asian footballers in the top two divisions of English football, alongside Aston Villa and Wales left-back Neil Taylor, and Stoke centre-back Danny Batth.

At 23, Choudhury, whose father is from Grenada in the Caribbean and whose mother hails from Bangladesh, is 14 months older than former Liverpool youngster Dhanda. The pair have played against each a number times on their journey through the youth ranks.

Choudhury became the first player of Bangladeshi origin to grace the Premier League when he came on in a home win for Leicester against Tottenham in November 2017. Taylor, Zesh Rehman, Michael Chopra and Jimmy Carter are the only other British South Asians known to have featured in the division before Leicester’s former U23 captain.

Former football player Emile Heskey attends the Premier League Asia Trophy Skills Session at Macpherson Stadium on July 18, 2017 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong 1:15
Former striker Emile Heskey talks about the love of football among the South Asian community in his hometown Leicester, and how players like Hamza Choudhury can inspire the next generation

In the last six months, Choudhury has seen his fabulous 2019 strike against Newcastle shortlisted as one of the Premier League’s goals of 2020, and the Loughborough-born midfielder also marked his first European start with a goal in a 2-1 win at AEK Athens in October.

“The good thing that I love about Hamza is that I can tell he is proud of where he’s from,” Dhanda told Sky Sports News.

“He’s not hiding anything about who he is, and where he is from, and where his family are from. That’s the good thing because people should be proud of where they are from and do what they want to do.

“I’m friends with Hamza actually, so I am even happier for him [and his success with Leicester]. I’d be happy for him even if I wasn’t, but because we are friends I am so happy for him.

“I’ve said it before, even when we were kids I used to hate playing against him because he was that good. You’d think you were past him and he comes out of nowhere and just takes the ball off you!

Hamza Choudhury and Harvey Barnes of Leicester City at full time of the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Leicester City and Birmingham City at The King Power Stadium 0:54
Watching academy graduates Harvey Barnes and Hamza Choudhury flourish in Leicester’s first team is motivating former Foxes youngster Sim Thandi to push on at Cypriot top-tier side AEK Larnaca

“It just proves my point. Hamza is so good, he’s believed in himself and look what he’s doing, he’s scored in the Europa League [earlier this season].

“I’ve believed in myself and now I’ve got myself into the Swansea team. It just proves my point that anyone from anywhere with hard work and belief in themselves can get anywhere.”

Anwar Uddin in action for Barnet
Image: Anwar Uddin’s first taste of coaching came at Barnet when he stepped in as player-assistant manager in 2011

Uddin: Most exciting time I can remember

Aldershot assistant manager Anwar Uddin was the first player of Bangladeshi origin to play professionally in this country, and, during his time with Dagenham & Redbridge, became the first British South Asian captain of a Football League side.

The West Ham academy graduate is fondly remembered by Hammers fans for skippering the club’s U18 side during their famous FA Youth Cup-winning campaign in 1999.

With the latest research indicating there are more British South Asians on professional deals across England’s top four divisions than ever before, Uddin insists it is the most exciting time in football for the community that he can remember.

“Hamza and Yan continue to develop into both fantastic footballers and fantastic role models,” Uddin told Sky Sports News.

Arjan Raikhy Fa Cup third round vs Liverpool 1:53
Punjabi Villans co-founder Ricky Cheema says watching 18-year-old British-Punjabi footballer Arjan Raikhy make his Aston Villa debut against Liverpool in the FA Cup was ‘amazing’

“Those two and the likes of Mal Benning, Otis Khan, Danny Batth, Neil Taylor, and others, are inspiring the next generation of young players from the South Asian community because they offer living, breathing proof that you can make it in the game, regardless of your background.

“There is also a really good crop of South Asian players coming through behind these guys at clubs throughout the leagues and also some really promising talent in the women’s game. That’s not just limited to the pitch, by the way, as there are a plethora of coaches all searching for an opportunity.

“It’s brilliant to see Sky Sports take a lead in raising awareness of British South Asians across the game. It is the most exciting time for British South Asians in football that I can remember.

“Yes there are still issues we need to address but lets not forget the positive stories and role models who have succeeded despite these concerns. Life is all about balance so it’s time we add some balance to this narrative as we now have some amazing people leading the way.”

British South Asians in Football

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