Indian Super League

From being penniless to becoming one of Pune City’s vital cogs: The story of defender Adil Khan

The 29-year-old said that he struggled with his finances after a ligament injury kept him out of the game for nearly two years.

For almost two years – long stretches of 2015 and ‘16 – football took a backseat in defender Adil Khan’s life. Financially drained out and left to deal with a career-threatening ligament injury, it was rehabilitation, and managing day-to-day expenses that featured high on the Goan’s priority list.

Taking into account the travails of an average Indian footballer, this was a recipe for a perennial downward spiral. There have been players who have fallen on the wayside from that position. Luckily, Khan had a supporting family to turn to for help, “After my PCL (Posterior cruciate ligament) injury, I was out on the sidelines for more than a year,” Khan told The Field.

“It was difficult to manage my expenses as I was not playing. I had no income at the time. Fortunately, family members – my brother in particular – offered me support when the chips were down. Those were tough times,” he added.

Despite being one of the most experienced Indians on the circuit, Khan went looking for opportunities. There were stints with Bharat FC and second division outfit Lonestar Kashmir, low-profile clubs after having cut his teeth as a professional with Sporting Goa and Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan.

Khan explains: “At the time, getting back into the groove was important. I had not played for a long time and had to earn match practice. The stature of those clubs didn’t matter to me as they instantly welcomed me into their setup.”

The comeback

Adil Khan, apart from being one of the key members in defence, has also contributed with goals for FC Pune City | Image credit: ISL
Adil Khan, apart from being one of the key members in defence, has also contributed with goals for FC Pune City | Image credit: ISL

It was a will to hit the ground running once again, but Khan was on the comeback trail. Familiar surroundings acted as a tonic to his career, which was on the crossroads. Goan club Churchill Brothers came calling, and picked him for the 2016-’17 I-League season.

Khan helped the side finish a respectable sixth at the end of the season. There, he was marshalling the defence with aplomb and scoring goals from set-plays, a facet not every defender is blessed with, “Not many people know that I was a forward during my younger days. Then, I was tried in a number of positions, including midfield and full-back. So, goal-scoring is something that I honed for a long time.”

“Moreover, it is about getting in the right position in the area, which comes through experience.”

That bit of versatility would come to aid him when game time was all that mattered to him – at Lonestar, he was deployed in midfield. In what was a shot in his arm, FC Pune City came calling during the first pick of ISL draft – a surprise move at the time – and there was no looking back. Pune’s faith in Khan has reaped rich dividends as he has now established himself as one of the key members of the side, making several telling contributions.

Bucking a very poor trend

The 29-year-old had missed the transition phase of the ISL. From a glorious exhibition contest featuring yesteryear greats, the division had become serious business, for the Indian contingent in particular. “During the first season [Khan was with Delhi Dynamos], there was a distance between the foreign stars and the Indian players. The Indians would chat among themselves. But now, that’s not the case,” said Khan, when asked on how the hosts have bridged the communication gap with their counterparts.

Khan got limited time with the Dynamos but at Pune, he has established himself as one of coach Ranko Popovic’s main men. The SESA academy product seamlessly blended into the setup, regaining full fitness, a new-found determination. Well...even a rugged new hairstyle, perhaps signalling a new chapter in his career.

Pune now stands on the cusp of qualifying for the play-offs, “When I came into the side, that [reaching the last-four] was one of one of the foremost objectives. In previous seasons, Pune have got off to great starts but missed out. I am hoping that would change,” he said.

Pune are currently second in the table, behind table-toppers Bengaluru FC, who have already sealed a play-off place in their debut season. The tide may have passed and Khan’s troubles now seem like a distant memory, but he remains hooked to his Goan roots, which he attributes for his love for the game. As for hauling himself back to the big stage...that could be pinned down to his willpower and passion.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

When did we start parenting our parents?

As our parents grow older, our ‘adulting’ skills are tested like never before.

From answering every homework question to killing every monster under the bed, from soothing every wound with care to crushing anxiety by just the sound of their voice - parents understandably seemed like invincible, know-it-all superheroes all our childhood. It’s no wonder then that reality hits all of a sudden, the first time a parent falls and suffers a slip disc, or wears a thick pair of spectacles to read a restaurant menu - our parents are growing old, and older. It’s a slow process as our parents turn from superheroes to...human.

And just as slow to evolve are the dynamics of our relationship with them. Once upon a time, a peck on the cheek was a frequent ritual. As were handmade birthday cards every year from the artistically inclined, or declaring parents as ‘My Hero’ in school essays. Every parent-child duo could boast of an affectionate ritual - movie nights, cooking Sundays, reading favourite books together etc. The changed dynamic is indeed the most visible in the way we express our affection.

The affection is now expressed in more mature, more subtle ways - ways that mimics that of our own parents’ a lot. When did we start parenting our parents? Was it the first time we offered to foot the electricity bill, or drove them to the doctor, or dragged them along on a much-needed morning walk? Little did we know those innocent acts were but a start of a gradual role reversal.

In adulthood, children’s affection for their parents takes on a sense of responsibility. It includes everything from teaching them how to use smartphones effectively and contributing to family finances to tracking doctor’s appointments and ensuring medicine compliance. Worry and concern, though evidence of love, tend to largely replace old-fashioned patterns of affection between parents and children as the latter grow up.

It’s something that can be easily rectified, though. Start at the simplest - the old-fashioned peck on the cheek. When was the last time you gave your mom or dad a peck on the cheek like a spontaneous five-year-old - for no reason at all? Young parents can take their own children’s behaviour available as inspiration.

As young parents come to understand the responsibilities associated with caring for their parents, they also come to realise that they wouldn’t want their children to go through the same challenges. Creating a safe and secure environment for your family can help you strike a balance between the loving child in you and the caring, responsible adult that you are. A good life insurance plan can help families deal with unforeseen health crises by providing protection against financial loss. Having assurance of a measure of financial security for family can help ease financial tensions considerably, leaving you to focus on being a caring, affectionate child. Moreover,you can eliminate some of the worry for your children when they grow up – as the video below shows.


To learn more about life insurance plans available for your family, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.