The big news: Ishan Pandita signs for Deportivo Leganes
Ishan Pandita, an 18-year-old boy from Bengaluru, has inked a one-year deal with newly promoted side Spanish La Liga side Deportivo Leganes, who are currently 11th in the table. Pandita 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.
Though he has signed with the senior team, Pandita will begin by turning out for the club's U-19 squad. "It's been a tough, hard three years here in Spain but at the end, it was all worth it," Ishan told the Times of India from Madrid. “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."
Pandita had joined the U-18 team of the Spanish Segunda Division (second division) club UD Almeria for an eight-month stint last year. The young, talented striker's career in Spain began with Alcobendas CF in Madrid, a feeder club for Spanish giants Atletico Madrid. "What impressed us most about Ishan were his physical attributes and ability to score goals," academy director Jorge Broto Benavente said. "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."
"It was a bit hard to adapt and play the Spanish way in my initial days here," said Pandita, who will play his first game for Leganes once his registration is formalised by FIFA in the coming days. "But since all the training I got during my formative years was from British coaches in Philippines, where I lived for a few years, the transition was smooth."
Prior to joining Leganes, Pandita underwent trials with another La Liga club, Getafe, 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 Pandita.
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