Real Madrid’s magician goal keeper Iker Casillas is his idol. Shahinlal Meloly, who presented a stunning show at the recently concluded I-League as the goal keeper of Pune FC, feels he has a lot to learn from the Spanish legend. Shahinlal, a 23-year-old lad, is aiming to make his mark as a senior Indian International.
Damned with natural shot-stopping power, Meloly has already become the blue-eyed boy of football lovers, players and coaches. For Shahinlal, football has always been his natural calling. Trained by his uncle Siraj Mohammed, a former Kerala Police player, he started playing football when he was a seventh standard student of the Malabar Christian College School, Kozhikode. “My ultimate aim is to become a part of the national senior team. Though Subrata Pal and Sandip Nandy are there, I expect a place in the team after a couple of years and my training is arranged in that way,” says a confident Shahinlal.
Besides Casillas, Chelsea keeper Petr Cech and Prayag United’s Subrata Pal are the other favourite players of this promising player. “I have heard much about yesteryear Kerala Police’s goal keeper K T Chacko, the most talented goalkeeper India has ever seen, but could not meet him as yet,” he added. Meloly has represented Kerala in national tournaments at various age levels but his career really took off when he was called up for the India Under-19 camp in 2007. He was part of the India Under-19 squad which went to Iran but lost in the Asia Cup (Qualifiers) group stage.
“Since we (Pune FC) finished second in the last I-League, definitely there is pressure to achieve the first place. As a youth team, we have to keep our performances steady,” adds Shahinlal. Coming to Kerala football, he expressed his wish to play on grounds across the state, though there is no possibility as there is no representation of the state in the national league, and thereby no chances for an away match here. He began his professional career after receiving an offer from Viva Kerala, now known as Chirag United Kerala, to be part of their senior team roll in 2008.
Subsequently, in 2009, he made his breakthrough into the senior team and remained a regular player in the squad from then on. It was in 2010-11, after two seasons of I-League with Kerala team, he signed with the Pune squad. Being a member of a middle-class family in Kakkodi, the support of his father M Koya, a lorry driver, mother Hajira and elder sister Shahin Sha, keeps him stand firm under the bar. “If things would go smooth, within few a years I will be in the Indian senior squad, Insha Allah,” signed off the player.