Last evening, India defeated Hong Kong 4-0 in their Asian Cup Qualifier. Anwar Ali was the first to score in the 2nd minute. Here is his story.
When all is said and all is done, and there is so much to say and do, one goes back to the basics. The fundamental lessons that we ruled out as clichés at some point because they were not realistic enough. But see, they may have been.
One such 'cliché' I am thinking of today is - luck favours the brave. I have doubted the legitimacy of this claim myself, but it is likely true after all.
Anwar Ali, India's centre-back was diagnosed with rare heart disease, Hypertrophic Myocardiopathy, in 2019. It was bad enough for him to be ruled out of all games and professional football as a whole.
Looking back, it made sense. Who was going to take the responsibility if something were to happen to him on the field?
Anwar, 19 at the time, then started his journey towards recovery and another towards proving that he has recovered. In a video posted at the time, he had pleaded, "Please don't take football away from me, I won't survive".
But people were still scared, and it was highly recommended that he does not participate in games for his own good. I wonder what would have happened if he had listened to them. We would have scored one less goal last evening - that is a starting point, though possibly the least damaging of the repercussions.
However, he did not give in. Anwar consulted the best doctors in India and outside the country. He got in touch with cardiologist Dr. Sanjay Sharma, who also treated Christian Eriksen after his scary cardiac arrest last year, and got medical approvals.
These were important and directly linked to legal approvals that he had to obtain.
What an amazing turnaround by young defender Anwar Ali! ❤️😍— IFTWC (@IFTWC) June 15, 2022
From playing in the U-17 World Cup for India to having his career end with a health problem to again start playing, performing well and getting called to the Blue Tigers setup and then scoring a goal! 🇮🇳🙏 pic.twitter.com/Pf6NSQljWF
Anwar Ali appreciation tweet— Conrad Barreto (@conradbeckham) June 14, 2022
2years ago forbidden frm playing football due to a rare heart condition. Won the case, took responsibility upon himself. Climbed his way from lower divisions of local leagues in Uttarakhand, Punjab & Delhi to FC Goa. 1st senior goal today fr India 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/AlwZP2L79k
Months of circling around and visits to the High Court later, Anwar was taken in by FC Goa in 2022. I remember the day when he was sitting on the bench for the side's first Indian Super League game of the season.
There was so much nervousness but also a relief. He had not taken a long break from football during this hiatus. He was playing in lower leagues. But this was different.
At the time, his mentor Ranjit Bajaj had told The Indian Express, "This entire journey has been like some Netflix series. The climax will be when he puts his India colours on".
1 year ago Anwar Ali was not allowed to play football due to a health issue. Today he has rocketed the ball in to cement our place in the 2023 Asia Cup! Legend! #IndianFootball #INDHKG https://t.co/wc9kNU9He7— The Indian Hammers (@indianhammers) June 14, 2022
The wishful thinking helped, but I beg to differ with Mr. Bajaj. No way can this be the climax. Anwar has been through a lot, and he may vouch for the fact that a broken heart can often be as difficult to heal as the one that is diseased.
To put the pieces of it together and then to represent the country, there has to be more to this story. This reminds me of another phrase that I had not thought of, for a very long time. Something to do with the conspiracy of the universe for the best of lovers.