Sahal Abdul Samad

Sahal Abdul Samad (born 1 April 1997) is an Indian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for the Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters and the Indian national team. He primarily plays as an attacking midfielder, but can be also deployed as a wide midfielder.

Sahal Abdul Samad
Sahal Abdul Samad.jpg
Sahal Abdul Samad in 2019
Personal information
Date of birth (1997-04-01) 1 April 1997 (age 23)
Place of birth Al Ain, UAE[1]
Height 1.76 m (5 ft 9 12 in) [2]
Position(s) Attacking midfielder
Club information
Current team
Kerala Blasters
Number 18
Youth career
2012–2016 Al-Ethihad Football Academy
2016–2017 Kerala State Football Team
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2017–2018 Kerala Blasters B 10 (7)
2018– Kerala Blasters 51 (1)
National team
2019–2020 India U23 2 (0)
2019– India 9 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 25 February 2021
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 14 November 2019

Club career

Early life and career (2010–2017)

Sahal was born in Al Ain, UAE, and completed his 14 years of schooling at New Indian Model School in Al Ain.[3][4] He started to play football at the age of eight.[5] In 2010, Sahal joined the Al Ethihad Sports Academy to train in professional football. After completing his studies in UAE, he moved to Kannur in Kerala, India, to complete his degree and to play university football. A few months after starting his degree, he was spotted by a coach of SN College in Kannur, who persuaded him to switch colleges. After good performances at university-level tournaments, he joined the district Under-21 side, and then the Kerala team, to compete in the Santosh Trophy.[6]

2017–present (Kerala Blasters)

2017–2018:Kerala Blasters B

Sahal's performance in the 2017 Santosh Trophy was noted by scouts of Kerala Blasters,[7] who signed him to his first ever professional contract and put him on the reserve side for the 2017–18 I-League 2nd Division. In the fourth match against FC Kerala, he was appointed as captain for the rest of the season. He scored seven goals from ten games and became third top-scorer in the league.[8] As the senior team was struggling with points in the 2017-18 Season of ISL, manager René Meulensteen decided to promote some youth players, including Sahal, to the senior team.[9] Due to the team's poor performance, Rene was sacked after the match and David James took over for the rest of season.[10] Sahal was not included in the squad for the next five matches but he was called up to side and remained as an unused substitute in next two matches. Sahal debuted for the senior side as a substitute for the former Manchester United player Dimitar Berbatov in the 80th minute of a match against ATK, which ended in a draw. He was given another chance in the 90th minute of the match against Bengaluru.[11]


In the 2018–19 season, Sahal was included in the starting 11 of the season opener against ATK, which Blasters won by 2–0. He played in the entire 18 matches during the season, scored his first goal for the club against Chennaiyin FC on 15 February 2019. Sahal improved his passing capability and made 688 touches during the season.[12] He was one among the top Indian players with most key passes in the season.[13] Despite club's poor campaign in the 2018–19, Sahal enjoyed his breakthrough season and went on to win ISL Emerging Player of the Season.[14] He was also announced as the "AIFF Emerging Player of the Year".[15] On 11 May 2019, Sahal signed a contract extension with Kerala Blasters, which tied him to the club until 2022.[16]

Blasters appointed Eelco Schattorie as the manager in the 2019-20 ISL season.[17] As the season progressed, the team's injury problem became so concerning, Sahal was mostly used as a winger and sometimes as a secondary striker. He started most matches at right-side of the midfield and provided two assists during the season.[18]

On 12 August 2020, despite the circulation of rumours about him leaving the club, Sahal committed himself to the Blasters, signing a contract until 2025.[19] On 20 December 2020, Sahal made his comeback from the quads injury, that had sidelined him for a month since his first match on November 20 in the 2020–21 Indian Super League season. He came back as a substitute in the 46th minute and provided an important assist to Jeakson Singh who equalised in a 1–1 draw against SC East Bengal during the stoppage time.[20] Since that match, Sahal has been deployed as a winger by the new manager for the season Kibu Vicuña.[21][22] On 15 January 2021, Sahal won the Hero of the match award in the match against East Bengal which ended in a 1–1 draw.[23] Sahal was once again awarded with the Hero of the match on 27 January 2021 in a 0–0 draw against Jamshedpur.[24]

International career

Sahal has been called up for the India U23 football team for the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers[25] and made his debut on 11 March 2019 against Qatar U23 in a friendly ahead of the qualifiers.[26]

Sahal was included in the preliminary squad of the senior team in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup but did not make it into the final squad. In May 2019, he was named in the squad for 2019 King's Cup.[27][28] Sahal made his debut on 5 June 2019 in a 3–1 loss against Curaçao in the 2019 King's Cup.[29][30]

Style of Play

Although mainly playing as a attacking midfielder or central midfielder, Sahal is also capable of playing as a wide midfielder or winger due to his high dribbling ability and creativity.[31][32][33] He is considered to be a promising young player by many football pundits and fans.[34][35][36][37]

Personal life

Sahal was born and raised in the UAE. He has three elder brothers and one younger brother.[38]

On 10 June 2020, Sahal signed a deal with German multinational sportwear company, Puma, as its new ambassador.[39]

In June 2020, Sahal auctioned his national team jersey, which he wore during the World Cup qualifiers. He donated the proceeds of the auction to Kerala Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund to help prevention activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.[40]

Career statistics


As of matches played till 25 February 2021[41]
Club Season League Super Cup Continental Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Kerala Blasters B 2017–18 I-League 2nd Division 10 7 0 0 10 7
Kerala Blasters 2017–18 Indian Super League 2 0 0 0 2 0
2018–19 17 1 1 0 18 1
2019–20 18 0 0 0 18 0
2020–21 14 0 0 0 14 0
Kerala Blasters Total 51 1 1 0 0 0 52 1
Total 61 8 1 0 0 0 62 8


As of match played till 14 November 2019[42]
National team Year Apps Goals
India 2019 9 0
Total 9 0



Kerala Blasters FC


  1. ^ Dhar, Pulasta (28 September 2019). "The amazing grace of Sahal". LiveMint. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Sahal Abdul Samad profile - Goals, Passes and more". Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  3. ^ Shetty, Chittu (15 July 2019). "Born in Al Ain, Sahal says 'Moving to India changed my life'". Football Counter. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  4. ^ Sportstar, Team. "Sahal recalls journey from university football to senior national team". Sportstar. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  5. ^ "I'm happy at Blasters: Sahal quells rumours of ATK move". OnManorama. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  6. ^ Sportstar, Team. "Sahal recalls journey from university football to senior national team". Sportstar. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  7. ^ Sportstar, Team. "Sahal recalls journey from university football to senior national team". Sportstar. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Kerala Blasters' Sahal Abdul Samad waiting for his big break |". Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  9. ^ "ISL 2018-19: Top 5 promising youngsters |". Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  10. ^ "ISL 2017-18: Kerala Blasters appoint David James as Rene Meulensteen's replacement, claim reports". Firstpost. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  11. ^ "Bengaluru FC vs. Kerala Blasters FC - Football Match Line-Ups - March 1, 2018". ESPN. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  12. ^ "ISL: Kerala Blasters' Sahal Abdul Samad — The rarest of Indian talents". The Bridge. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
  13. ^ Issac, Alby (19 November 2018). "ISL 2018-19: Kerala Blasters' Sahal Samad draws inspiration from 'Ozil of Kerala' tag". Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  14. ^ "Sahal Abdul Samad chosen Emerging Player of The Year by AIFF - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Sahal Abdul Samad chosen Emerging Player of The Year by AIFF - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  16. ^ "Indian Football Transfers: Sahal Abdul Samad signs contract extension with Kerala Blasters till 2022". Sportskeeda. 11 May 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  17. ^ Sportstar, Team. "Kerala Blasters parts ways with Eelco Schattorie". Sportstar. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  18. ^ "Sahal Abdul Samad Stats". ESPN. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  19. ^ "ISL: Sahal Abdul Samad signs new deal with Kerala Blasters until 2025". The Bridge. 12 August 2020. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  20. ^ Prasad, Aashin. "ISL 2020-21: Sahal twists and turns before adding productivity on comeback for Kerala Blasters". Sportstar. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  21. ^ "The best of Sahal is yet to come – Kibu Vicuna wants his star midfielder to make a stronger impact |". Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  22. ^ "Kerala Blasters: Midfielder-turnt-winger Sahal Abdul Samad needs to improve |". Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  23. ^ "SC East Bengal vs Kerala Blasters FC Live Score Update, Commentary, Scorecard". Indian Super League. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  24. ^ "Kerala Blasters FC vs Jamshedpur FC Live Score Update, Commentary, Scorecard". Indian Super League. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  25. ^ Narayan, Aaditya (8 March 2019). "Derrick Pereira names 23-man India U-23 squad for friendly against Qatar - Onus on Chhangte, Sahal, Dheeraj". Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  26. ^ "India U-23 go down fighting against Qatar". Khel Now. 21 July 2017. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  27. ^ "Squad for King's Cup". Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  28. ^ "Six newcomers make the cut for Igor Stimac's India squad for King's Cup". Khel Now. 2 June 2019. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  29. ^ "New look Blue Tigers go down to Curaçao". Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  30. ^ "Just the beginning: Sahal and Co. relive their emotional debut". Indian Super League. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  31. ^ "'We deserved to win' - Kerala Blasters boss Kibu Vicuna delighted with first win of the season |". Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  32. ^ "Love to dribble and sprint: Indian football team's Sahal Abdul Samad models himself on Lionel Messi". Press Trust of India. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  33. ^ "Inspired by Lionel Messi, Sahal Abdul Samad dribbles forward with India". The Indian Express. 18 September 2019. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  34. ^ "Sahal Abdul Samad: Bhaichung Bhutia Picks Indian Football's Next Big Player". Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  35. ^ "Twisting & turning, Samad finds his way into team India". Hindustan Times. 4 September 2019. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  36. ^ "Kerala Blasters is the place to be for Sahal Abdul Samad |". Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  37. ^ "Despite his flaws, Sahal Abdul Samad remains India's best attacking midfielder". The Bridge. 15 February 2021. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  38. ^ Nayak, Nicolai. "The making of Sahal Abdul Samad, Indian football's rising midfield star". Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  39. ^ "After Chhetri, Gurpreet, Puma signs Kerala Blasters' star Sahal Abdul Samad as new ambassador". The Bridge. 10 June 2020. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  40. ^ "Footballer Sahal Abdul Samad auctions his team India jersey to help COVID-19 prevention activities". Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  41. ^ "Sahal Samad career". Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  42. ^ "Sahal Abdul Samad". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman. Retrieved 13 July 2019.

External links