New Delhi, Oct 9 : Defender Bikash Yumnam has become the first and only Indian player to get featured in The Guardian's Next Generation 2020: 60 of the best young talents in world football.
"Composed on the ball, a great reader of the game, and capable of excellent, fast, long throw-ins, the teenager has already been earmarked for a quick progression to the full international side," reads his profile on The Guardian website.
The profile mentions his performance in the 2018 Asian under-16 championship where India made the quarter-finals, losing 0-1 to South Korea. It was the only goal India conceded in the competition following 0-0 draws against Iran and Indonesia.
The 17-year-old Manipur-born defender was loaned to Indian Arrows, the All India Football Federation's development side, for the 2019-20 I-League. After 16 games, the Indians-only Arrows who are protected from relegation were at the bottom of the 11-team standings. He has played nine games in the I-League top tier before it was halted because of Covid-19 pandemic.
"He impressed again on loan at developmental club Indian Arrows before returning to Punjab, turning down offers from bigger Indian clubs, in May," the profile reads.
"It's a great news and brings me immense joy and pride that my boy Bikash got featured in such a prestigious list. He has huge potential, everyone here appreciates him, he has the attributes to become a great player," Ranjit Bajaj, owner of Minerva Academy FC, stated.
"He is a young player who of course will have to be protected, but at the same time should be given space to grow and reach his potential. He is a serious kid, always on time for training, and has certain modesty but on the pitch, he leads the team and always wants to win as a team. He is an example for many in the academy and I hope we can produce such talents in years to come," he added.
The Guardian has been releasing the list of next generation player every year since 2014.