Manolo Marquez's Hyderabad FC have brought football back to life in the city after being crowned as the champions of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season. A foregone tale of footballing action that witnessed the glory days back in the 1980s and 1990s, the city has been revived of entertaining footballing action, courtesy of Hyderabad FC's attractive and inspiring style of football.

The city, which has been known for its massive contributions to the Indian national team in the late 80s and 90s, is again on the rise for its brilliant youth setup at Hyderabad FC. The side has a circuit of impressive young players who have been gaining prominence and have been on the spotlight of earning an entry into the Indian men's national team. One such young player who has been up and running on the fields of the G.M.C Balayogi Stadium is their forward Abdul Rabeeh. 

The 22-year-old joins the list of several other youngsters who have been groomed under Manolo Marquez and his coaching staff. Hailing from a state where football is no less than a religion, the player from Mallapuram, Kerala, has a fascinating perspective of his new home at Hyderabad FC.

“People in my city, Malappuram, are mad about football. But when I joined the Hero ISL with Hyderabad FC, it was a bit different. They are a unique team that gives chances to young players,” he said while speaking to The Pioneer in an exclusive interview.  

"The spirit of football isn’t found in any other game. No storm, no hurricane, can stop it. There is the grapevine that girls don’t usually like watching or playing football, but I see girls out there who love football! That’s the beauty of the game,” he added.

The youngster was full of praise for the love he encountered in the city and shared anecdotes about his wonderful time as a player donning the yellow of Hyderabad FC. Being a side that has an intrinsic focus on the future of the club by developing and nurturing young talents, Hyderabad FC did not disappoint with Rabeeh, who played regularly for them and has already contributed three assists to the team's success in the ongoing Hero ISL 2022–23 season.

On non-matchdays, Rabeeh takes a tour down the city and visits the memorials. Moreover, since most of the teammates are foodies, the head coach has put them on a strict diet. His 'cheatday meal' is just another experience that he enjoys with his teammates at the club, which feels like a home away from home.

“Every weekend is a battle, and we are willing to die on the field for one another. To share that experience with my compatriots and an excellent coach with a huge mentality is a privilege. Off the pitch, our coach adopted us as their own—we just happened to be from another nation. We all spent time together in the city, at restaurants, and at each other’s homes. I have that unity to thank for our on-pitch success,” he added.