KARACHI: Kaleemullah made his debut in the US Soccer League for Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday at the Bonney Field Stadium in California, winning the hearts of fans as he helped his club in their 2-1 victory over Oklahoma City Energy Club.
The 22-year-old, who has spent almost two months in San Francisco up till now, is the first Pakistani footballer to sign a professional contract with a US club.
According to Kaleemullah, his first appearance had been crucial as he had wanted his side to win the match whether he scored or not.
“I was just hoping that the first match I appeared in would be a winning one,” Kaleemullah told The Express Tribune.
“It’s like a dream debut. I went in the match for 25 minutes but I know I performed well in that time, putting pressure on the opponents and giving them a tough time.
“I know I couldn’t score, despite a few attempts at the goal, but I’m glad that I did help other players.”
The Chaman-based striker, who has never seen a stadium with as many as 50,000 spectators before, said that he really wanted the Sacramento Republic FC fans to accept him.
“Every player wants to be liked by the fans, so I was a little nervous at first. However, I was surprised with the way they cheered for me and I will never forget this match.
“In Pakistan, I never saw such a big crowd at a football match so this was something I’ll always cherish,” he said while adding that he hoped to score in the next match for the club on Thursday.
According to the Sacramento Republic website, “Kaleemullah immediately made an impact, using impressive speed down the middle and creating chances.”