Kaleemullah becomes first Pakistani to sign for a US football club

Published: June 19, 2015
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The 22-year-old said the trials went well and he is happy with his selections at the club. PHOTO COURTESY: KALEEMULLAH

The 22-year-old said the trials went well and he is happy with his selections at the club. PHOTO COURTESY: KALEEMULLAH

The 22-year-old said the trials went well and he is happy with his selections at the club. PHOTO COURTESY: KALEEMULLAH A file photo of Kaleemullah during a match. PHOTO: Kalemullah

KARACHI: Kaleemullah’s dream of being the first Pakistani footballer to play in the US became a reality as Sacramento Republic FC confirmed his four-month contract with the club on Friday.

Kaleem spent a month-and-a-half in San Francisco, where he impressed the club’s coaches during the trials and also earned support from the Pakistani community in the process.

“To be able to live your dream is the biggest opportunity you can ask for,” he told The Express Tribune. “It’s something I’m proud of, but I know that I have to improve my game.”

The Chaman-based striker revealed that it has been two weeks since he signed the contract. “We were just waiting for the club to sort out my visa proceedings and then make an official statement. Now that it’s all done, I’ll finally be playing at the US Soccer League [USL], which will always be a plus point in my career.”

The 22-year-old will be playing 15 matches in his four-month stay, with his first match due on Saturday against USL leaders Oklahoma City Energy FC at Bonney Field.

“Sacramento Republic is a big club, and it has the potential to qualify for the Major Soccer League too,” said Kaleem. “It’s still a very long way to go, but I’m hoping to score as many goals as I can. I may even get to stay here for more than four months if I make a difference for the club this season.”

Kaleemul was the top scorer for his former club FC Dordoi in Kyrgyzstan last year, where he claimed the best player of the year award by scoring 23 goals in his debut season.

He also captained the national team in the all-important India-Pakistan tour which the men in green won in Bangalore last year.

Sacramento Republic FC’s Technical Director Graham Smith confirmed Kaleemullah’s contract on the club’s website. “The signing of Kaleemullah demonstrates the continued mission of Republic FC to bring the best players from around the world to our Capital City.”

The striker’s former coach Tariq Lutfi remembers him as a star from the very beginning when he picked the teenager for KRL FC.  “He is intelligent and extremely eager to learn. I’m very proud of him. He’s making Pakistani proud all over the world,” said Lutfi.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Umair
    Jun 19, 2015 - 9:03PM

    Best of luck Kaleemullah. Recommend

  • Saad
    Jun 19, 2015 - 10:07PM

    Way to go Kaleemullah! Make us proud!Recommend

  • Ismail
    Jun 19, 2015 - 10:11PM

    Hailing from Chaman and making your way to a US club shows that if given opportunitites, football can become really big in Pakistan. Time to shift focus from cricket to other sports specially soccer, boxing, squash, hockey, cycling etc. Goodluck with your endeavors and keep making us proud.Recommend

  • truth fairy
    Jun 19, 2015 - 11:42PM

    Its a proof that if you really have it, you will progress instead of weeping about lack of opportunities and govt. support.Recommend

  • straightshooter
    Jun 20, 2015 - 3:00AM

    Best of luck Khana!!!Recommend

  • talha
    Jun 20, 2015 - 9:07AM

    keep it up bro, you deserve the best.
    lets cheer and bring more talent to the world level. Recommend

  • Jun 20, 2015 - 10:46AM

    Viva Kaleemullah! keep scoring high for your club and yourself. SalamsRecommend

  • Bismillah Jan
    Aug 1, 2015 - 10:03AM

    Best playerRecommend

  • Mohammad Rizwan Rizwan
    Sep 4, 2015 - 2:14PM

    you are best you are the best you are my nation Champion… I love you…Recommend

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