Mohammad Abdullah, a midfielder for the preliminary squad of the national football team, was 'destined' to become a footballer as his mother prophesised after a dream she had before he was born.
The 19-year-old from Sirajganj has found himself in the squad of the new coach Tom Saintfiet after playing just 10 matches in the top flight with Arambagh KS – five-matches each in the Independence Cup and the Federation Cup respectively. However, his metamorphosis into a top-flight footballer was not an easy one as the 5ft 9inch midfielder went through numerous ups and downs before finally getting an opportunity to prove his worth.
“Though I started playing football at the age of six, my first competitive football match was in the Bangabandhu Gold Cup primary school tournament in 2010. Since then I have had to do a lot of hard work to come to this stage,” said Abdullah, who relayed an interesting story about becoming a football player.
“While I was in my mother's womb, she had a dream one day that a good-looking little boy stopped her on the road before embracing her. The little boy then gave her a football and asked whether she knew him. Later the boy told the lady to turn him into a footballer and name him Abdullah,” said the youngster, adding that his mother tells this story to everyone who queries about him.
“When I was six, my father was forced to buy a football instead of buying daily necessities for our poor family and since then, I have been with football. My elder brother also gave up his studies to make me a footballer,” said Abdullah, who attended a three-month camp at Dinajpur BKSP and a seven-day camp at Dhaka BKSP but failed to get admission into either institution.
Abdullah's fate changed when he joined the Gazipur City Football Academy, which took part in the Pioneer Football League in 2013 and qualified for the Super League.
“I was picked for the BFF Football Academy through a trail which was arranged for the teams which qualified for the Super League of the Pioneer League. Then I was taken for an eight-month training camp in Sylhet before the BFF academy was closed,” elaborated Abdullah, who was later picked by BFF coach Syed Jilani for Dilkhusa SC who play in the Third Division League.
“I didn't think I would be picked for the preliminary squad so early, but I had confidence that someday I would play for the national team. I will give all the effort to make it to the final squad as there are some well-known midfielders already in the side such as Mamunul Islam, Emon Mahmud, Shahedul Alam, Zahid Hossain and Hemanta Bishwas.”
Like Abdullah, Jafar Iqbal is another new face to the preliminary squad who has impressed everyone after playing only 5 matches in the Federation Cup.
The 18-year-old winger from Bandarban had once struggled for a place in his neighbourhood team but when he was given a chance to play with the seniors, he proved himself to everyone. Eventually he got a trial in 2015 with Feni Soccer U-18 team and was playing for them during the BFF U-18 development Cup where he managed to draw the attention of Jilani and finally be picked for the BFF Academy.
However, the feat that has earned him a top-flight move to Arambagh KS this year was his tally of nine goals from 11 matches while playing for Dilkusha SC, the club had called him up despite the fact that he had yet to begin training as the academy was closed.
“Getting a place in the preliminary squad was beyond my imagination, but I am now confident about doing well in training. I want to learn from this training and implement those things in the upcoming matches of the premier league. I won't mind if I'm not selected for the final squad because I have plenty of time, but there will be no shortage of effort from me,” said the diminutive winger.