KARACHI, Jan 29: National football coach Tariq Lutfi is looking forward to having Yousuf Butt, the goalkeeper from Denmark, at the camp which has been set up in preparation for the brief tour of Thailand and the London Olympics qualifiers at the Model Town Football Academy (MTFA) in Lahore.
Yousuf is expected to reach Lahore on Feb 3. It has been a lifelong wish of the talented young keeper who possesses a dual Canadian/Pakistani nationality to play for the country of his forefathers.
Hoping to represent Pakistan in the 16th Asian Games last year, he was suddenly stopped from coming here by the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) last year when they informed him that they had received his passport and papers rather late to submit to the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA). The player had by that time even bought an air ticket, which wasn`t even fully refunded by the airline for which he was not even compensated by the PFF who knew a month ahead that his papers were not accepted by the POA.
It is also rumoured that the decision to stop him in his tracks had something to do with the then national coach Akhtar Mohiyuddin`s favouring his old pal goalkeeper Jaffar Khan. But the current Pakistan coach Tariq Lutfi is keen to see him in action as he has as yet only seen his videos. “I really cannot pick the kid in the team based on his performance on film alone. You make videos of mediocre Pakistani players here and they, too, come out looking awesome so I prefer to see him at the camp in person,” Pakistan`s most experienced and successful coach to date joked while speaking to Dawn on Saturday.
“But one thing I know. Having had a good base in terms of training and grooming, these foreign players are very disciplined and hardworking. They sure have the right temperament to play and they make fine team members,” he added.
“I am already happy to have midfielder Irfan Khan in the camp. He is looking good,” he said about the player who joined the camp from England where he plays for Bradford Park Avenue Association Football Club.
“So even though I promise to give Yousuf Butt a fair chance to show me what he is made of, there are other factors, too, that come into the selection process such as fitness, etc.,” he pointed out.
It must be mentioned here that the goalkeeper, having played division I, II and III football with various clubs in Denmark, had been selected in the Canadian U-19 team a couple of years back but he turned down that offer as he was more interested in playing for Pakistan. And getting the chance to appear for trials this time around he has gladly given up his two months` salary that amounts to US$8,000 for the US$1,400 to 2,000 that he will be getting during camp here.
Starting as a goalkeeper at 10 years old with VanlÃ¸se IF, he was drawn to Hellerup IK at the age of 14 where he got into the professional team squad as an under-16 player. Later, as an 18-year-old, he became the youngest first goalkeeper in the club`s history. Playing for the Club BK Skjold later he avoided relegation in all the 17 games that he played. Currently top of the table with Birkerod at halfway stage with the least goals conceded in the league, he has six clean sheets out of 10 games.