‘Role model’ footballer from Bradford signs for title-winning Pakistan team [T&A]

‘Role model’ footballer from Bradford signs for title-winning Pakistan team [T&A]

by Mark Stanford [Bradford Telegraph and Argus]

A FOOTBALLER hopes to be a role model for young Asian players in Bradford after signing for a title-winning team in Pakistan.

Irfan Khan, 26, signed for Karachi Electric Football Club, who won this year’s Pakistan Premier League this summer, and will now line up for the side after their pre-season break.

The Heaton-born player got a call from the team in July and will play for them in the league from next month and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup from February next year.

K-Electric will initially take part in the group stages of the cup, which is the equivalent of the Europa League in Europe, and could be playing teams from countries including Australia, Saudi Arabia or Mongolia in future rounds.

He will also be playing in a warm-up tournament in Bangladesh next month.

Mr Khan is one of only two Englishmen in the K-Electric team and has represented Pakistan at under 19, u21s and u23s level, including the AFC Championships in Tehran in 2007.

The central midfielder previously played for Bradford Park Avenue.

He also had unsuccessful trials at a host of English clubs including Scunthorpe United, Aldershot Town, FC Halifax Town and Swindon Town.

Mr Khan then took time out from football until he joined the Pakistan champions.

He said: “It’s important for me to be a role model.

“There are a lot more facilities and guidance for young Asians coming through. I used to kick a ball around a car park in Heaton when I was younger.

“I have represented Pakistan on numerous occasions. I took a bit of time away from football as I was not getting the break. It was just not working out.

“It is the first time a team from Pakistan has entered the AFC Cup.

“Football is up and coming in Pakistan. I have also played at high altitude over there too.

“I would like to come back and play over here. I want to be playing where my family are.

“I’m just concentrating on K-Electric at the moment as I have got my small break with them.

“If I can do it now, I still have time to make it over here.”

Asked if he would like to line up for an English professional club, he said: “Of course I would like to play for Bradford City. If a club from the UK would want to sign me, I would never turn that down.”

He was given a civic reception at City Hall yesterday by the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Joanne Dodds.

The Lord Mayor of Bradford said: “Irfan is definitely a role model for Bradford.

“It’s a fantastic achievement, it just shows what can happen. It’s brilliant.

“It is important to recognise that he is from Bradford. He is so humble.”