By Rayes Afzal
SRINAGAR: 26-year-old Adnan Ayoub has spent a decade achieving milestone after milestone in Kashmir's footballing universe. Hailing from Srinagar's Sadrabal of Hazratbal area, Adnan started playing football and scoring goals from a very young age. Inspired by his father, Mohammad Ayoub Dar, a football star of the 80s and 90s era, Adnan pursued his dream of becoming a footballer.
"My father is my footballing idol," Adnan told Kashmir Observer. "I grew up watching him play as I used to attend his practice sessions at the Kashmir University football ground."
Playing as a Midfielder, it didn't take long for Ayoub to prove his footballing pedigree. At 16, he was selected for the under-17 School Nationals, 2010. After playing in locally organized tournaments, Adnan caught the eye of Kashmir Valley's football heavyweights, J&K Bank FC, who signed him up to its Academy in 2011.
"I learned a lot about the game from the Academy," recalls Adnan Ayoub.
In 2012, he was selected to play for J&K's Under-19 Football Team in Odisha. At club level, he played under the wings of legendary coach Abdul Majeed Kakroo at PDC Football Club for one year. Then in 2013, J&K Bank's Senior team came calling and signed Adnan to play under the tutelage of Hilal Parray and Manzoor Dar, two of the best football coaches of the Valley.
Soon enough, Ayoub was impressing everyone with his skills in the midfield and bringing many laurels and trophies to J&K Bank FC. His consistent performances were rewarded with a Captain's armband in 2018 and under his leadership, the J&K Bank football team became even more dominant.
Ayoub has represented J&K State Football Team in Santosh Trophy many times and also captained his side in the 2019-edition held in Uttarakhand.
In 2020, a transfer saga between J&K Bank and Real Kashmir FC erupted when Bank's three players, Adnan Ayoub, Danish Bhat and Farhan Ganaie, were barred from joining Real Kashmir. It was only after the intervention of the UT’s LG, Manoj Sinha, that the trio was allowed by the J&K Bank management to join Real Kashmir.
Every footballer wants to test himself at the highest level and playing in the prestigious IFA Shield Cup and Hero I-League with Real Kashmir FC meant just that. Ayoub successfully managed to take his game to next level as he helped the Snow Leopards in winning the IFA Shield Cup.
With Real Kashmir, Adnan Ayoub is currently playing in the I-league along side the likes of experienced international players Mason Robertson, A.P. Dipanda and Lukman Adefemi. An experience that will only help his game reach greater heights.
"I am thankful to my family and friends who have supported me at every step of my life and footballing career," Ayoub said.
When asked if he really thought playing football was a career in J&K, Adnan said:
"I believe nowadays football is a career option. In Real Kashmir, our state has its own Club from where we can get selected to play in India's top leagues like ISL (Indian Super League). Earlier, every player used to fear about his chances of reaching that big stage, the next level."
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