19. Nikhil Kadam

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Kolhapur born Nikhil Kadam is the first ever Peninsula Pune FC Academy player to sign a full contract with the club. From being a ball boy during Pune FC’s debut season in the I-League, Nikhil has definitely come a long way!

Nikhil was not even 10 when he first saw a football match and instantly fell in love with the game. He then joined his school team and encouraged by his uncle, who played national level football for Maharashtra State Police, he steadily progressed through the ranks.

After representing his state at the under-14 school nationals in Haryana in 2008, he was selected to join the Krida Prabodhini Academy in Pune. His coach at the academy, Jaideep Angirwal, played a huge part in molding him into a left winger. He stayed with the academy in Pune until his coach informed him about the trials at PPFCA. Enrolling for the U-19 trials, the winger impressed with his dribbling and crossing ability and was inducted into the Pune FC Academy U-19 team.

Since then, he hasn’t looked back! Nikhil was adjudged ‘Pune FC Best Disciplined Under-19 Player’ and ‘PDFA Best Player – Super Division Award’ in the 2011-12 season.

Being one of the standout performers in the Under-20 I-League, Nikhil’s talent was soon recognized as he was handed out a long-term senior team contract and an opportunity to dazzle at the highest level. Having made a couple of appearances in the Durand Cup and the Federation Cup, Nikhil made his debut for the senior team against United Sikkim FC on the 24th of November, 2012.

Nikhil wrote his name in the history books by becoming Pune FC’s first Maharashtra-born player to score in the I-League when he scored against Air India in Pune FC’s 6-0 victory. This humble 20 year old dedicated his first ever goal in the top flight to his parents.

The youngster, who has two elder sisters apart from his parents in his family, is immersed all day long in football. If not playing the game then he is usually watching highlight reels of his idol Lionel Messi. He feels that by trying to inculcate the Argentine Wizard’s dribbling and passing skills in his game, he can go a long way in the sport.

The winger wants to one day represent India on the international stage. But if he doesn’t make it as a player then the B Com. Yashwantrao Mohite College student hopes to stay in the game and make it as a football coach.

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