After Kyrgyzstan, Kaleem approached by clubs in Iceland, China [Express Tribune]

After Kyrgyzstan, Kaleem approached by clubs in Iceland, China [Express Tribune]

Natasha Raheel – Express Tribune

KARACHI: Pakistan’s Kaleemullah is a step closer to his dream of playing with European clubs as the 23-year-old has been approached by Iceland’s Þróttur Reykjavík FC, while China’s Chongqing Lifan FC also invited the striker to train with their team.

Kaleem, who is currently a part of Kyrgyzstan’s FC Dordoi with whom he finished his debut season as the top player in the league, says he wants to prove himself in other countries too.

The Chaman-based striker believes that the offers from Iceland and China are encouraging. “I’ve always wanted to play in Europe,” Kaleem told The Express Tribune. “As a Pakistan-born footballer, it’s my dream to make my mark in Europe too.

“I’ve proven myself in Kyrgyzstan’s football league but I want to make progress and test my mettle in European leagues too. The offers are very interesting but it’s up to FC Dordoi whether they will let me go or not.”

The letters that the striker received from Þróttur Reykjavík FC and Chongqing Lifan FC stated that they want him to train with the teams for at least a week.

Kaleem revealed that a video of him playing was uploaded on social media, which caught the attention of the clubs. “That video was uploaded by someone from the US and received a decent number of hits,” he said. “I’m humbled by the offers that have come my way as a consequence.

“Maybe my story will help footballers in Pakistan come forward as well.”

‘Pakistan comes first’

While Kaleem’s club career is going in the right direction, he said that playing for Pakistan is the biggest honour for him and he wants to help the team win against Yemen in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying round next month.

“I want to be with my team and play for my country; Pakistan always comes first,” said Kaleem.

The 22-year-old added that he will be joining the national side on its training tour in Thailand with FC Dordoi teammates Muhammad Adil and Saddam Hussain.

“We are coming to Pakistan on February 28,” said Kalemullah who, along with Adil and Saddam, missed the Malaysian leg of the preparatory tour due to club commitments. “We’ll get our visas from there and then join the national side in Thailand.”