Muscat: When 20-year-old Hamza Choudhury signed for Leicester City F.C. in 2011, the promising midfielder with an eye for goal caused nothing short of an international sensational. With a unique ability to play the game and a signature hairstyle to match his talent, the lad from Leicestershire gave football aficionados across the subcontinent a taste of what local talent can do on the big stage.
Why, is simple: his Bangladeshi origins set him apart and have shown the world the wealth of footballing talent waiting to be discovered in the Indian Subcontinent.
Speaking recently to the 'Leicester Mercury', Choudhury said, "Making my debut was a fantastic experience. I was going to come on first on 60 minutes but then Shinji (Okazaki) scored and I sat back down,” he recalled.
“But then after about 80 minutes, the gaffer told me to get back up and go on. I was trying not to think about it too much because we still had a job to do.
“Then, when the game had finished, it slowly began to sink in, especially when I went home and saw the family. They had all come to watch.
“Both my parents are Bangladeshi and I have been brought up in an Asian family, but I have Caribbean blood in me as my dad is from Grenada. We have a massive family.
“I don’t really feel any pressure about being a professional from an Asian background. My family have been a great help with that, just telling me to enjoy it," Choudhury said.
Choudhury, who currently plays as Leicester's under-23 captain, made his league debut under Claude Puel earlier in the season. His impressive form and character, on and off the pitch, has talent scouts across the footballing world looking at Bangladesh and its neighbours in the region as potential 'Sleeping Giants'.
To many, Choudhury's career is reminiscent of Easah Suliman's, a British-Pakistani who became the first player of Asian-heritage to captain an England football side, having done so at Under-16, Under-17 and Under-19 level. The 20-year-old Aston Villa centre-back will be on course to make a long-awaited Premier League debut if the Lions make the expected leap from the Championship this season.
But its not just British-born footballers of Asian origin that are setting Europe alight.
Ishan Pandita was the first Indian to sign for a La Liga sign, joining C.D. Leganes in 2016. He joins Yan Dhanda, the first Indian-player to sing for Liverpool, in carrying the hopes of millions of football fans in Asia hoping to see a footballing star of their own make it big in the top flight. And given the rave reviews Choudhury, Suliman, Pandita, and Dhanda have all received, it seems only a matter of time before that dream becomes a reality.