England could lose out on Manchester United’s Zidane Iqbal, with Iraq keen to cap teenager at senior level | Football News
England face the prospect of missing out on Manchester United teenager Zidane Iqbal, with Iraqi football chiefs keen to secure the teenager’s services at senior international level.
The attacking midfielder was called up to play for the Iraqi U23 side at last month’s WAFF (West Asian Football Federation) Championship, helping them reach the semi-finals before their elimination to Saudi Arabia. Iqbal also featured against United Arab Emirates, and took the captain’s armband before scoring against Lebanon.
Manchester-born Iqbal is eligible to represent England, Iraq and Pakistan but has yet to be called up to an England age-group squad, despite spending more than a decade with United and establishing himself as a regular member of United’s U23 squad.
The 18-year-old netted for the club’s youngsters against Sunderland in the EFL Trophy last month, and followed that up by scoring United’s opener in their 4-2 UEFA Youth League win against Italian side Atalanta.
Iqbal is one of four British South Asian Premier League footballers on a full-time professional contract alongside Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury, Aston Villa’s Arjan Raikhy and Tottenham’s Dilan Markanday.
Markanday: I hope I’m the first of many
Tottenham trailblazer Dilan Markanday says he is desperate to inspire more British South Asian footballers to come through after his historic appearance for the club.
Barnet-born attacking midfielder Markanday came off the bench in Spurs’ Europa Conference League game away at Vitesse to become the first British South Asian player in Tottenham’s 139-year history.
Markanday’s achievement has rightly been celebrated as a significant moment for the player, the club and the community, but the 20-year-old, who has been nominated for the Premier League 2 Player of the Month for October, does not want to stop there.
“I hope more and more come through and I am the first of many,” he said.
“I hope that lots of British Asians make that step, believe in themselves, back themselves and can come through and show what they can do.
“I hope they all see it and like it and are inspired by it, I hope they keep supporting me, following me and hopefully one of those watching will go on and do it themselves.
“The dream is to play for Tottenham for the next 15 years, playing every game, but obviously I know things might not work out and there are going to be ups and downs.
“But all I can control are the controllables and things will work out for the best. Being around the first team has made me want it even more. It has made me hungry and I want to be in that environment every day for the next 15 years.”
The Punjabi Rams supporters’ group have extended their commitment to Derby County Women by becoming a shirt sleeve sponsor for the team.
The group, who have been shortlisted for the Football Supporters’ Association Fans for Diversity Award, have built a strong relationship with Derby County Women over the years, with members of the squad and club hierarchy regularly attending end-of-season dinners’ in recent seasons.
They have been sponsoring the team’s Sikh-Punjabi winger Kira Rai for the last four years. Rai, 22, recently told Sky Sports News that they try and inspire each other, adding she feels lucky to have “her own little community within a club.”
🗣 “If I can inspire other South Asian girls to play football, then that’s the main thing.”
Derby County Women footballer Kira Rai admits she is slowly beginning to get used to the idea that she is a role model for girls across Britain’s South Asian community pic.twitter.com/VGm2xoDfR5
— Sky Sports WSL (@SkySportsWSL) September 13, 2021
The title-chasing Ewe Rams have won six of their last seven matches in the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division, and sit just one point behind table-topping rivals Wolves as they chase promotion to the FA Women’s Championship.
Official Deby County supporters’ club the Punjabi Rams chose an auspicious time of year to announce the partnership, with Hindus celebrating the Diwali festival of lights, and Sikhs celebrating Bandi Chhor Divas last week.
Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports News, Punjabi Rams founder Pav Samra said: “Our relationship with the Derby County women’s team dates all the way back to 2015 when they showed amazing allyship with us, a fans’ group, by printing our logo on the back of their first-team kit.
“With the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Derby County’s future, we know the impact is being felt wider, and as a group, we desperately want to support the club as a whole, as well as the women’s team, who are having a fantastic season.
“The Punjabi Rams sponsoring the team’s shirt sleeves is more than just a gesture. We’re actively demonstrating our belief in a one-club philosophy, while also trying to play our part in supporting the women’s game in this country.”
British South Asians in Football
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