India’s Bikash Yumnam named among top global teenage football talents

The annual list published by Guardian has previously featured stars like Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, Mason Greenwood and Matthijs de Ligt.

By Utathya Nag ·

Teenage Indian football player Bikash Yumnam is already catching the eye on the international stage.

The Punjab FC (previously Minerva FC) academy graduate has become the first Indian football player on Guardian’s annual shortlist of 60 most promising under-18 footballers around the globe.

The prestigious list, published by the iconic British daily, has previously featured global superstars like Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, Alphonso Davies, Matthijs de Ligt, and many more before they shot to the limelight.

In this year’s shortlist, Bikash Yumnam is accompanied by some of the highly-regarded academy prospects from Real Madrid, Juventus, FC Barcelona, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and other top clubs around the world.

Real Madrid duo Bruno Iglesias and Israel Salazar, Barcelona’s Ilaix Moriba, Arsenal’s Marcelo Flores, Bayer Leverkusen’s Florian Wirtz – widely regarded as the next Kai Havertz – are just some of the notable names on the 2020 list compiled by prominent football journalists.

Born in Manipur, Bikash Yumnam moved away from home at a young age to join the erstwhile Minerva football academy in Mohali, Punjab, to chase his footballing dreams.

The youngster rose up the ranks quickly at Minerva and established himself as a mainstay of the India youth setup.

Bikash Yumnam has represented India at the U-16 and U-19 levels. Photo: AIFF.

Bikash Yumnam won the 2017 SAFF U-15 Championship and went on to play an integral role in the U-16 Indian football team which reached the quarter-finals of the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship in Malaysia. The 17-year-old has also played for the Indian U-19s.

At the club level, the technically-gifted centre back made his senior breakthrough in I-League 2020 whilst on loan from Indian Arrows and impressed with his steady performances.

During the course of his debut senior season, Bikash also became a social media sensation courtesy of his long throw-ins, which earned him comparisons with former Stoke City player Rory Delap and words of praise from Liverpool’s throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark.

“Composed on the ball, a great reader of the game, and capable of excellent, fast, long throw-ins, the teenager has already been earmarked for a quick progression to the full international side,” Guardian’s resident Asian football expert John Duerden noted about the Indian youngster.

Bikash Yumnam still has a long way to go to match up to the feats of the international stars who have previously graced the Guardian top 60 list, but his inclusion is certain to give both the player and Indian football a major boost.