Shraishth Jain
AIFF Media Team

NEW DELHI: Mumbai Kenkre FC midfielder Azfar Noorani has played an important role for his side so far in the Hero I-League 2022-23 season, scoring three goals and registering two assists. The 23-year-old midfielder, capable of playing in central midfield or on either wing, is delighted with his start to the season.

“Thanks to Allah, I have always given my 100 per cent effort when I am on the field. I know this is just the beginning, and I have a long way to go. I am indebted to my parents, my family, and my head coach Mr Akhil Kothari, who has shown so much trust in me. The entire club management have always been extremely supportive as well,” the youngster said in a candid chat with

Hailing from Mumbai, Azza, as he is fondly referred to, followed his elder brother to the football field as a 7-year-old and termed his family’s support as the most crucial factor in his journey.

“I always loved playing all kinds of sports from the beginning, but I took a special liking towards football because of my elder brother. He used to play for our school’s team, and I always wanted to emulate him. I was about seven years old when I started, and I remember being awestruck when he showed me how to control the ball and do tricks. Him and my dad have been my first coaches,” he recalled.

He continued, “By the grace of God, we are a very close-knit family. They have always been very supportive in everything I do and are the most important factor for my success. They have never given up on me, and whenever I make any mistakes, they always remain calm and correct me. They are my real heroes.”

Noorani’s ambition of becoming a professional player took shape when he was in school, and his biggest dream is to share the dressing room and pitch wearing the Blue Tigers jersey with skipper Sunil Chhetri.

“I always like to be the best at what I do. So when I started playing for my school, I always wanted to be a professional player. My biggest dream is to play for my country, and I am ready to keep working hard to make it come true.”

“My footballing role model is the one and only Sunil Chhetri-sir. He is my inspiration, and I love the way he plays and handles the game. I always dream of playing with him together for the country,” he shared.

A key pillar in Noorani’s journey has been the club Mumbai Kenkre FC itself, whom he represented in their Hero I-League Qualifiers in 2021, and the midfielder expressed his joy of being able to play in front of his home fans.

He said, “The journey with Mumbai Kenkre has been really beautiful. The club has always supported me and given me the confidence to perform at the I-League level. It feels wonderful to represent your city on such a big platform. I feel alive when I play in front of our home fans.”

The club is currently placed ninth on the league table but will be looking to move upwards after coming from behind to defeat a strong Real Kashmir side at home in their last match just before the winter break. “I just want my club’s name to feature in the top three. We are all working very hard to achieve this. The team is looking good now, and we are working together to reach our collective target,” Noorani concluded.