Sun Jul 05 2020 04:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
"It wasn’t easy uprooting my life from Bangladesh as a 7-year-old. I never dreamed of arriving in the skyscraper metropolis of London in 1991 on a cold January morning-a far cry from warm sunshine, village life, and endless hours happily playing on recently harvested paddy fields.
It was on the playground and in PE classes that I felt connected to this new world. No judgment on speaking or writing English-it was just about having fun. In my latter years of primary school, I was invited to a grassroots football team. That was the beginning of my deep connection to this beautiful sport.
I was 12 when a scout took me to the Arsenal Football Club. I eventually played on the youth and reserve team under the coaching philosophy of Arsène Wenger. The years at Arsenal were a dream, despite challenges and little industry knowledge. Unfortunately, when I was 18, I tore my hamstring. It was tough mentally and physically. It proved difficult to get back to my best and my time with Arsenal came to an end.
Despite that, I had more to contribute. My coaching journey began without a plan or help. I reflected on what I could have done to improve my game, what industry knowledge I was missing back then, and how, as a coach, I could help other players. In 2012, I became the first Bangladeshi to be a qualified UEFA A Licence coach. I made mistakes that I overcame and turned into learning experiences, and found myself in a privileged position where I could help others.
One of my most exciting opportunities was coaching the Guyana national team, a team that had never qualified for a major competition. Working in difficult circumstances with little resources was challenging, but the passion from the players to do well and achieve something special was second to none. At the beginning of our campaign, in a moment of inspiration, I encouraged my players to ‘Make history, don’t just pass through it.’ One year later, we qualified for the Gold Cup 2019 and made history.
I continue to coach, train other coaches, and work at The Football Association of England. Most importantly, I always give life to my ambition of one day coaching a team for The World Cup.”