Blessing of Long Arms

Khaleel with his father Arakkal Moosa 1990
Khaleel with his father Arakkal Moosa 1990

Khaleel was born in Palghat (Palakkad) in Kerala. A senior employee with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Khaleel-Ur-Rahman is a rare and gifted footballer who had captained the Karnataka team several times with distinction. Under his leadership, Karnataka`s football team had emerged as a powerful team on the Indian Scene.

He was inspired by his father Shri. Arakkal Moosa to play football who once played for Mohammedan Sporting Club, one of the oldest football clubs in India.  “Watching my father play the league at the Cannonore Gymkhana was enough to kindle my interest to the game. He also encouraged my no end as a coach,” Said Khaleel.

Khaleel joined the Industrial Training Institute as an apprentice and played club football for two years after which he represented the junior side for Kerala in the nationals held at Coimbatore in 1986.

It was HAL Coach Mr. Chandrasekhar who spotted Khaleel during one of the Junior National Championships. He was also instrumental in bringing him to Karnataka. However, the man who shaped and moulded Khaleel to a classy stopper-back was State Coach Amjad Khan who, along with A.D.Nagendra and Krishnaji Rao, had been guiding the fortunes of Karnataka football in the national circuit.

“My talent was spotted by Hindustan Aeronautics Sports Club coach Chandrasekhar. I was selected to represent Hindustan Aeronautics Sports Club, where I had the opportunity to learn a lot by seeing the senior players”, he said.

Khaleel has always displayed tremendous fighting qualities, but seldom lost his cool. He has that rare flair for attack, embarking on a solo down the middle to relieve the pressure from others. He is also endowed his abilities to come up with long throws and remarkable spot jumping, a vital quality required for a deep defender. But above all it was his unswerving dedication and self-discipline that saw him through so far in a highly demanding game like football.

It was in 1989 that Khaleel was first called to the national camp-in preparation for the 1990 Beijing Asian Games. He found a place even in the final camp, under the tutelage of Hungarian Coach Joszef Gelei. But the government did not grant permission for the soccer team and Khaleel`s dreams of representing the country remained unfulfilled.

Though he had the consolation of touring Maldives as a member of the Junior India team, which returned triumphant winning the Pommies Cup, there were more disappointments in store for him. He missed a berth in the Indian team for the Nehru Gold Cup held at Trivandrum in 1991. Later, despite having a good run during the Indian team`s tour of Tanzania, Khaleel found himself warming the bench more often at the Colombo SAF Games, and when he was dropped for the Madras Nehru Cup early this year, he was indeed a disappointed and disillusioned man.

He had told Amjad Khan, during the Kochi Santosh Trophy in February-March 1993, that he would not entertain any hopes of playing for the country in the near future and that he would not attend any more camps. He, however, did not allow his disappointments affect his game. On the field, he continued to be irrepressible and irresistible. Khaleel came up with a consistently good performance in the Nationals, where Karnataka lost to Kerala in the semifinals, and was a common factor in all the spotters lists.

“I had lost all hopes because every time I fell at the doorstep, I had in fact told Mr. Amjad Khan that I would not like to attend the trails or the camps again. But one Friday at Kochi, when we were going to the Mosque during the Ramzan period, Mr. Amjad Khan told me not to feel disillusioned and that my day would come. He was so consoling and reassuring that I began to believe more in myself,” says Khaleel.

He was a more determined man in the Pre-World Cup camp in Bangalore. Under Czech Coach Jiri Pesek and national Coaches Dereyk D`Souza and Arun Ghosh he picked up some more finer points of the game, ironed out the minor flaws that had affected his game and was all the more confident. And it came as no surprise when Pesek named him in the first 11 at Beirut.

Endowed with broad shoulders, his ability to read the opponent moves ahead and take remedial measures apart from his firm and at times scything tackles had served to keep his adversaries at a distance. Add his penchant to affect powerful headers and that daring swoop to avert near-certain goals and you get a defender par excellence. Not many can match his abilities. More so if one adds his prowess at affecting long throw-ins from the sidelines near the corner flags. Khaleel can make throws that will put even basketballers to shame. Their efforts might well elude the loop but Khaleel will never fail to throw the ball into the imaginery “loop” at the intersection of the cross-bar and the left or right upright from as far as to yards with unfailing accuracy. All that his teammates need to do is to pop up and head the ball down into the net. That has happened on countless occasions. Khaleel even enabled India score similar goals during their Pre World Cup clashes in 1993 against Lebanon and HongKong at Seoul. “It was during my stint as a goal keeper in Palghat that I developed his long throw and have tried my best to make it an effective weapon.” Said Khaleel, who was also in the Indian team which won the SAARC cup in 1993 at Lahore.

Khaleel thereafter was plagued by injuries and even though he was selected to represent India at the SAF games at Madras in 1995 he could not play due to a nagging hamstring injury that kept him out of international matched for nearly two years.

Famous clubs like Mohammedan Sporting and Mohan Began approached Khaleel to play for their teams, but he declined as he is content with HASC for providing him with the security and the exposure.

SAARC Gold Cup - 1993
SAARC Gold Cup – 1993
Achievement in Football
Year Represented Place
1987-88 Senior Nationals for Santhosh Trophy Quilon
1988-89 Senior Nationals for Santhosh Trophy Guwahati
1989-90 South Zone Senior Nationals Bangalore & Goa
1990 Indian Team for President Cup Football Tournament (Gold Medal) Maldives
1990 Received Outstanding Sports Person Award from State Government Karnataka Bangalore
1991 Senior Nationals for Santhosh Trophy (State Captain) Palghat
1991 Indian Team to tour Africa Tanzania
1991 The SAF Games Held at Sri Lanka Colombo
1992 Senior Nationals for Santhosh Trophy (State Captain) Coimbatore
1993 Senior Nationals for Santhosh Trophy (State Captain) Cochin
1993 Indian Team of Asia Group ‘D’ Qualifying for World Cup Beirut & Seoul
1993 SAARC Tournament (Gold Medal) Pakistan
1995 The SAF Games Held at Madras (Gold Medal) Madras
1995 Received Ekalavya Award Bangalore
1996 Senior Nationals for Santhosh Trophy (State Captain) Jabalpur
1997 National Games Bangalore

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