In a situation where football in Pakistan is suffering and is being tormented by politics, a youngster from Lahore has made the country proud as footballer Abdullah Abbas has signed a contract with West Ham United Football Club.

While the teams in Pakistan were enduring tough circumstances – with players not being paid and certain departments being forced to shut down their teams due to lack of funds, along with scarcity of football tournaments being organized – Abdullah Abbas was hopeful of making his mark on world of football and making his country proud.

In a position where most people would give up and claim this dream to be nonsensical, Abbas was determined to fight for his passion and become a professional player who would make his country proud. He has taken the first step towards just that as he signed for one of the most renowned football clubs in the English Premier League.

Filled with belief and the conviction to realize his dreams, Abbas finally achieved what he struggled for, signing with West Ham United for three years as a part of their Youth/Senior program which would see him rotating between the reserves and the first team for the duration of the contract. Based on his performance, his role in the squad and the re-signing of the contract would be determined.

While talking to this scribe regarding how he felt when he signed the contract, Abbas said, “I feel as if I am dreaming! The pen felt so heavy when I was signing, but as soon as I saw my signature printed on the piece of paper I couldn’t control the emotions and yes I’ll admit it few tears did trickle down my cheek!”

“West Ham United, the club itself is rich in history, talent and achievements! From Bobby Moore, Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard to Mark Noble it has produced many legends of the beautiful game! The fans are easily the noisiest and most passionate in London. Hopefully I’ll be able to deliver and bring joy in the East side of London very soon! The new stadium promises to be a thing to be reckoned with and deserves European nights. Which we’ll get next season Insha’Allah,” he added.

Abbas was ecstatic to be a part of a huge football club but did feel that more Pakistani footballers should work towards this as he felt that many feel that achieving this is impossible. “Honestly as happy as I am to be one of the few to have made it, it saddens me that more Pakistani’s have not accomplished this feat. Insha’Allah in the coming years I’m hoping that we would see a lot more Pakistani footballers playing across the big leagues in Europe as I hope this proves that nothing is impossible if you work hard for something you believe in,” he said.

Talking further about the football in Pakistan, he said that he believed that Pakistan can be a breeding ground of world beaters in the near future and if the players were given proper coaching and a proper platform for them to work hard, we would be able to see a lot more Pakistani players playing across the top leagues in Europe.

Giving a message to all the aspiring footballers in Pakistan, Abbas said, “To all my fellow Pakistani brothers and sisters who are pursuing a career in football, I’ll just tell you this that in our flashy boots and slick haircuts it might seem like an unattainable goal but honestly deep down we’re all the same and it’s possible if you put your heart to it! For at the end of the day hard work always beats talent!”

No journey is without struggles and hindrances and same was the case with Abbas’ effort towards realizing his dreams. Commenting on the difficulties he faced, he said that as they say “God helps those who help themselves!” and believe me nothing would’ve been possible without the help of the Almighty Allah.

“There were times when I regretted picking up a ball instead of a pen, but I always deep down believed in myself and in the fact that Allah tests our patience and tests us that how bad do we really want it! Even if I wanted to speak about the difficulties I encountered, words would not be able to justify the 16-year long struggle,” he said, adding that there were times when coaches considered him no good for their team, considered him to be a bit too weak and even too “brown” for their team but giving up was never an option and never should be one.

He further said, “Regardless of the struggles and the setbacks, I had something that would nullify the negativity. The pillars of my strength and the ones who believed in my dreams more than I believed in them, my parents; the two most supportive and caring parents one could ever have! My brothers and my sister who’ve always believed in me and kept me in line whenever I strayed off of it! My friends and my teammates, who constantly helped me in developing my game and pointing out my mistakes. Without all of them, this would not been possible! Thank you all!”