Bala Devi hopes to meet Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard
NEW DELHI: Indian footballer Ngangom Bullet Devi He's in a very good mood these days. She is busy answering congratulatory phone calls and messages for her incredible achievement. After all, the 29-year-old has made history by becoming the first Indian footballer to obtain a contract with a foreign club: Scottish giants Rangers FC .
By signing this contract, the striker has also become the first Asian international footballer of the Rangers.
It feels great. I am very excited and happy to represent my country and be the first female soccer player to get a contract abroad, ”Bala told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview.
“I was in my hometown (Imphal) when I received this news. Everyone was very happy. My parents have always supported me and this was great news for them and my family, ”he said.
Manipur, 29, signed an 18-month contract with the Scottish Women's Premier League club. After signing the contract, he received calls from soccer icons like Bhaichung Bhutia and the captain of the Indian men's soccer team Sunil chhetri .
“I'm hoping to learn a lot from the players over there (At Rangers FC). This opportunity and exposure will definitely add to my experience and game. Sunil Chettri, Rennedy Singh, Baichung bhutia, Bembem Devi all helped me during this period and they all wished me when the news came in, ”Bala said.
“She (Bembem) was in my senior year when I started playing and has taught me a lot. It was great to play with her. She has been my teammate and also a mentor, ”said Bala, who works in the Manipur police department.
Bullet Devi is the current top scorer for the national women's team and also the leading female goal scorer in South Asia. She has scored 52 goals in 58 games since 2010. She has been the top-scorer in the Indian Women's League for the past two seasons. She was also named AIFF's Woman Player of the Year twice, in 2015 and 2016.
Incidentally, the men’s team of Rangers FC is managed by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard and Bala is looking forward to meeting the iconic Liverpool and England midfielder and taking footballing tips from him.
“Definitely. He is a great footballer and getting a chance to meet him and speak to him will be a great learning experience for me,” Bullet Devi told TimesofIndia.com.
Apart from Bala, the tastes of Mohammed Salim , Bhaichung Bhutia , Sunil chhetri , Aditi Chauhan and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu I have played for European clubs in the past.
It feels great to be presented on this list. I am honored to be part of this list of players, a confident Bala told TimesofIndia.com.
Bala underwent a one-week trial at Rangers in November last year. When he returned from the tests, he helped the national team win the gold in the South Asian Games of 2019. He also finished as the top scorer for the country, scoring six goals in four games.
“There is a great responsibility in me. Since I went to the tests, I have an idea of the type of game they play. I will have to adapt to your style and especially the weather conditions there. I talked with my colleagues about my experience there. It was my dream to play in a European country and when this opportunity arose, I didn't want to get lost, ”said the Indian footballer.
“My ultimate goal is to be able to play my best game and continue to represent my nation. With this change to the Rangers, I want to continue making my country proud with my performances, ”said Bala.
“I like watching (Cristiano) Ronaldo and (Lionel) Messi play. His game is very inspiring, ”said the footballer who was part of the Manipur U-19 team that played the U-19 Women's Championship in Assam in 2002.
Bala is happy that he will wear the same Rangers jersey number he wears for India: the number 10 jersey.
“This was the same number that I wear when I represent the country and it is an honor to receive it and wear it when playing for Rangers FC too,” Bala signed off.