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Mohammed Salim: The ‘barefooted Indian’ who took Thirties soccer by storm | World Information

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“My father was fearless,” says Rashid Ahmed, holding his dad’s inexperienced and white jersey.

The dear household heirloom was introduced again to India in 1936 after probably the most exceptional episodes within the historical past of the sport.

The person he describes, Mohammed Salim, was a Calcutta league champion with Mohammedan Sporting Membership and the primary footballer from Asia to play in Europe.

His grandson Adil, who spoke alongside along with his father, describes soccer as greater than only a recreation: “In a approach, sport was a part of India’s freedom battle. They have been enjoying within the final years of British rule and their performances confirmed that they have been nearly as good as their rulers”.

He provides, “Individuals like my grandfather gave numerous hope to individuals in India.”

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One in all Salim’s greatest followers and closest buddies, Mohammed Hasheem, labored as a bar tender on a steamship. It was him who persuaded the gifted winger to attempt his luck in Scotland.

When Salim demonstrated his abilities in a particular trial at Celtic Park the coaches have been shortly satisfied that they had a particular expertise. Membership director Tom Colgan described him to the newspapers as “undoubtedly a participant of positive pure presents”.

However there was one other drawback to be overcome, like most Indian footballers on the time he did not put on boots.

His son Rashid says: “They needed to get an official cross from the Committee for him to play with naked ft.”

This was how Salim turned out for his first look towards Galston on 28 August 1936, earlier than 7,000 supporters in what was successfully a reserve match. Even with out footwear, he was the person of the match.

Rashid Ahmed, Mohammed Salim’s son, holding his dad’s inexperienced and white jersey

The Scottish Each day Specific nicknamed Salim the “Indian juggler” and reported that three of Celtic’s targets within the 7-1 victory over the Ayrshire workforce got here from his twinkling toes.

“He balances the ball on his large toe, lets it run down the dimensions to his little toe, birls it, hops on one foot spherical defender, then flicks the ball to centre, who has solely to ship it into objective.”

Salim was picked to play once more towards Hamilton two weeks later, when he scored from a penalty.

“The barefooted Indian biffed the ball exhausting to the left of the goalkeeper who, though managing to get his hand to it, was completely unable to stop it going into the web,” reported the Each day Document.

The Indian winger’s solely safety from industrial Scottish defenders was a bandage.

The Each day Document carried an image of him earlier than the Hamilton match having his ft and ankles wrapped by Celtic’s well-known coach Jimmy McMenemy.

His grandson Adil feedback that this was a robust picture, “It could have been unimaginable right here. This was earlier than India was launched from British rule and you’d by no means see a white particular person contact the ft of a brown particular person”.

The message from the dressing room at Parkhead was that everybody was equal once they pulled on a Celtic shirt.

Celtic's trainer Jimmy McMenemy wraps Mohammed Salim's feet and ankles. Pic: The Daily Record
Celtic coach Jimmy McMenemy wraps Mohammed Salim’s ft. Pic: The Each day Document

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Salim’s closing match for Celtic was a 3-2 victory over a Partick Thistle XI in a profit match at Petershill Park, on 14 September. The Night Information reported that once more, “Salim was the brightest participant afield.”

Celtic has seen sufficient to wish to hold him, however simply 5 days later he left on the identical ship that had introduced him to Glasgow. Alongside along with his jersey, he carried a pair of white shorts and a gold watch as souvenirs.

Adil says that he was homesick, lacking his household again residence and Indian meals.

As an alternative, it was followers of the all-conquering Mohammedan Sporting Membership who received to take pleasure in his skills on their approach to 5 successive Calcutta league titles.

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