Ishan Pandita has become the first Indian player to get a professional contract from a La Liga club
Bengaluru - Oct 05, 2016. RedNewswire/-
Bengaluru boy Ishan Pandita who is just 18 YO has become the first Indian footballer to sign a professional contract with a club in La Liga, which is the top tier of Spanish football. Ishan Signed a one year deal with Leganes, which is located on the outskirts of Madrid and are 11th in the league table.
Pandita will first turn out for the club's U-19 side, which currently plies its trade in the Division de Honor Juvenil, the top level of the Spanish system for youth players.
He was given the `No. 50' blue-and-white striped home jersey by club vice-president and owner, Felipe Moreno, at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque stadium in Leganes.
“It’s been a tough, hard three years here in Spain but at the end, it was all worth it. It feels great to be the first Indian to go down this path. Right from the moment I decided to take a break from studies till now, I never gave up on my dream." “My first goal is to get some game-time and score a few goals. If I can progress from the youth team and debut for the first team before the end of the season, that will be great,” he added.
Ishan grew up in Philippines before moving to Bengaluru in 2009. He shifted to Spain two years ago, and was part of UD Almeria's youth system. Since he hadn't turned 18 then, he couldn't sign a professional contract.
Before joining Leganes,Ishan underwent trials with another La Liga club, Ge tafe, earlier this year.
"The trials went well and the club was very interested in signing me. But sadly , they got relegated and my aim was to sign for a club in La Liga," said Ishan. "We've got a new field for the youth players since we moved to La Liga. The facilities are state of the art and we have a fantastic coaching and support staff. We get a lot of attention and in every training program, they make you feel as professional as possible. More importantly , everyone is an equal here," he added.
Leganes academy director Jorge Broto Benavente said..
“What impressed us most about Ishan were his physical attributes and ability to score goals. It’s too early to say when he will break into the main team ,he is a young player, a rough diamond to be worked on.”