Muhammed Rafi joins his 'favourite team' Gokulam Kerala

Muhammed Rafi was part of the Indian team which emerged as champion in the SAF U-18 championship in 2019.

Muhammed Rafi is Gokulam Kerala's new signing.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Muhammed Rafi has always been a fan of Gokulam Kerala. So he was delighted when Gokulam became the first ever team from Kerala to win the I-League a couple of months ago.

That joy is now doubled: he has been signed by Gokulam.

“It is great to join one’s own favourite team,” says Rafi over phone from his home at Muvattupuzha on Friday. “I was hoping to be picked by a professional club and I am thrilled that Gokulam is that club.”

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It was his fine performance, for Mar Athanasius College (Kothamangalam), at the recent Kerala Premier League (KPL) that attracted the attention of Gokulam. “I had viewed KPL as an opportunity for me to graduate to the higher level,” the 20-year-old says. “So I was glad that I could do well in the tournament.”

Making a mark

Rafi had made a mark before the KPL, though. He was part of the Indian team that emerged as champion at the SAF U-18 championship in 2019.

“It was nice being part of what was a strong Indian team,” he says. “We had trained hard under coach Floyd Pinto and it was great to finish as the champion, after beating Bangladesh in the final.”

He was at the time with the Bengaluru FC Academy. “Most of my teammates at the SAF tournament became part of Indian Arrows and played at the I-League,” he says. “Unfortunately I could not, as my club didn’t release me. That disappointment is now gone though, after getting picked by Gokulam.”

He is particularly looking forward to catch up with one of his former teammates at Gokulam — Emil Binny, who was named the emerging player of the I-League.

“I was with him at the MSP Football Academy at Malappuram and am not at all surprised with his success,” says Rafi. “It would be great to play alongside him at Gokulam.”

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