Rahman, Kerala’s famous football fan, is flying to Qatar for World Cup

Rahman shows his football skills ahead of the ISL opener. Photo: Arun George

There are football fans and then there is Abdul Rahman. He is Kerala football’s equivalent of Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary, the die-hard fan of Sachin Tendulkar, who has been a permanent fixture at matches of the Indian cricket team for years.

Rahman, a native of Changanassery, is the 'brand ambassador' of Kerala football. He seldom misses any major football event in Kerala. From Santosh Trophy to I-League to Federation Cup to the Indian Super League, Rahman is always present.

And he doesn’t just show up to watch the matches, he brings along glamour.

Rahman is a showman. He loves to entertain. You can't find Rahman without a football. He loves to juggle. His best trick is balancing a football on his beautiful bald head. He even carries football banners and posters. This time, Rahman had covered himself in a flex featuring the legendary V P Sathyan. “What is Kerala football without Sathyettan?” Rahman asks.

Rahman at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. Photo: Arun George

And while Rahman has been a famous football fan in Kerala, easily recognised by the who's who in Kerala football, he has never had the chance to tour overseas like the more famous cricket fan Sudhir. But that is about to change.

On Friday, hours before the ISL season opener between Kerala Blasters and East Bengal, when Rahman showed up outside the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in Kochi, he had great news to share: “I’m flying to Qatar.”

Rahman was buzzing when he said that he will be at the World Cup in Qatar beginning November 20. “The only time I went outside India was with FC Kochin. I think that was in 2001. Then I went to the Maldives,” Rahman said.

He says some generous football friends have agreed to sponsor his world cup dream. “My tickets are booked, I’ll fly on the (November) 22nd and return on the 29th. I’ve many friends there, they have told me to just get there and the rest will be taken care of,” said a cheerful Rahman.

He hasn’t got any match tickets for the World Cup, but he is confident that his friends would take care of that too. “In the one week I’ll be there, Brazil will be playing. I’m a huge Brazil supporter. If I get a chance I won’t miss that match,” said Rahman.

Meanwhile, the other football fans gathered around Rahman; their mobile phone cameras were on standby to click Rahmanikka. “One selfie, Ikka? asks a curious young fan. “Why not, come here,” Rahman said.

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