Uttam Rai- the fifteen year-old prodigy from Sikkim scaled yet another height in his young footballing career as he was recently named in the list of “Top 10 Players To Watch Out For” at the Dr. Peppers Dallas Cup XXXII scheduled to be held at the FC Dallas Stadium between April 1-8, 2012.
This is huge news for the youngster who missed the 2011 edition of the tournament due to an injury. The Dallas Cup has acted as a stepping stone for some of the greats of modern football and it’s alumni list includes names such as Raul Gonzalez (Spain), David Beckham(England), Wayne Rooney (England), Michael Owen (England), Robinho (Brazil), Landon Donovan (US), Clint Dempsey (US), Maicon (Brazil) and Javier Hernandez (Mexico).
For someone who has followed the teenager’s career, his inclusion in this elite list of players should not come as a surprise as he has been creating waves in the Indian football circuit for quite sometime now. He has been awarded the “best offensive player” by the IMG academy and is currently in USA on scholarship from IMG itself.
He has a remarkable tally of 31 goals to his name in just three editions of the Subrata Cup and has even gone through trials for Swiss club Grasshoppers FC. He received a lot of praise for his performance in the 2012 U-16 AFC Championship qualifiers and blasted five past the Kyrgyzstan goal in the first match itself. He was the chief architect behind the Indian team’s qualification for the main tournament.
In the 2012 edition of the Dallas Cup, Uttam will be sharing the limelight with some other best upcoming talents in the world of football including Richard Sanchez, who was a part of the Mexican U-17 World Cup winning team and Will Keane, who made his first team debut for English giants Manchester United against Blackburn Rovers in December’2011.
Uttam’s brother Birbal Rai was extremely excited with the news of his brother’s inclusion in the list of players to watch out for and hopes this would provide an ideal platform for Uttam to achieve far greater success in life. “This is a great platform for Uttam,” Birbal says. “Hopefully playing with such big teams and academies he will get noticed and (he) will play to his best to make every one of us proud”.
Uttam is represented by Libero Sports India who currently represent 22 professional footballers in India and are very excited about the recognition their client has received at a very young age. Randeep Baruah, Manager for Player Representation has this to say about Uttam, “He’s up against some big names at the youth football level there so it will be a fantastic experience for him. We have always believed in him, and I know everyone does who’ve seen him play. (For Uttam) it’s all about enjoying his football and he needs to maintain the same focus and determination that he plays with the U16 National team. All of us at Libero – his managers and fellow professionals – wish him all the very best!”
Uttam Rai Factfile
• Born on December 20 1996 at Chumbong, West Sikkim
• Idolizes Sunil Chettri and fellow Sikkimese legend Bhaichung Bhutia
• Selected in U-14 category by Swiss club Grasshopper Zurich in Switzerland (2008)
• Scored 5 goals for India at the AFC U-14 tournament in Iran
• Represented India at the TATA Tea – Arsenal Soccer Stars in London (2010)
• Best Player at the Brazil tour in the U-15 category
• ‘Offensive Player of the Year’ at the IMG Academy, Florida (2011)
• ‘Most Promising Player’ at the Subroto Cup (2011)
• Scored 5 goals in one match vs. Kyrgyzstan at the U-16 AFC Qualifiers at Tashkent (2011).