BRANDON KHELA became the first British South Asian footballer ever to sign professional terms at Sky Bet Championship side Birmingham City, according to a report.
The Punjabi midfielder played for Birmingham’s U18s last season, before establishing himself at the U23 level in Premier League 2, and turns professional after completing his first season as a scholar, Sky Sports reported.
Khela,17, played in both of England’s recent U17 friendly matches against Norway and the US.
He is a second-year scholar and has been rewarded with a contract after his display of heroics in the first 12 months of the scholarship. Khela joins Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham as another exciting prospect to have emerged through Birmingham City’s academy.
“I am delighted, over the moon, it is a dream come true. Me and my family have been working towards this since I was a kid. Everything has gone into it, I have put my heart and soul into it. I am a centre-midfielder, box-to-box I prefer to play. I can score and create and that is what I am going to try and offer this season and, hopefully, get us further up the table,” he said.
Khela started playing football aged three and opted for Birmingham instead of his hometown club Coventry City. He has since played in every age-group side.
According to the report, Khela is comfortable playing anywhere across the middle of the pitch and is currently training with the first-team squad, who depart on pre-season tour next week.
“This is huge. It’s a landmark moment for all Birmingham City fans, particularly those from a South Asian heritage background. I’ve supported Blues for over 60 years and have waited a very long time to see a South Asian kid wear the Royal Blue shirt,” said Micky Singh, chair of Official Birmingham City Supporters’ Group Blues 4 All.
“It will be a momentous occasion across the entire city of Birmingham – and beyond – the day Brandon makes his debut for the first team. And from a representation perspective, watching him perform on the pitch will give hope to many aspiring youngsters that want to follow the path into professional football.”
Besides Khela, Birmingham City also rewarded professional contracts to six second-year scholars for their progress. The other players to receive the contract are Alfie Brooks, Rico Browne, Tommy Fogarty, Rico Patterson, Callum Sullivan and Kieran Wakefield.