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Pakistan players celebrate a goal against Maldives during their AFC U16 2012 qualifying match. -Photo by Reuters
Pakistan players celebrate a goal against Maldives during their AFC U16 2012 qualifying match. -Photo by Reuters
Shahid Khan, Pakistani billionaire and also the owner of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars now owns English Premier League football club, Fulham on July 12, 2013. - Photo by AP
Shahid Khan, Pakistani billionaire and also the owner of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars now owns English Premier League football club, Fulham on July 12, 2013. - Photo by AP
Ricardo Duarte (L) of Costa Rica's Cartagines vies for the ball with Boumesca Tue Na Bangna of England's Fulham during a friendly football match at the Nacional stadium in San Jose, on July 14, 2013. - Photo by AFP
Ricardo Duarte (L) of Costa Rica's Cartagines vies for the ball with Boumesca Tue Na Bangna of England's Fulham during a friendly football match at the Nacional stadium in San Jose, on July 14, 2013. - Photo by AFP

KARACHI: Pakistan football chiefs urged new Fulham owner Shahid Khan to go back to his roots and tap up young talent in the South Asian country.

Billionaire Khan, born in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, took over the English Premier League club in a deal struck on Friday.

The 62-year-old vowed to build on the foundations left by previous owner Mohamed Al Fayed, and Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) marketing director Sardar Naveed Haider urged him to look to Pakistan.

“We are trying to make contact with him to request him to come to Pakistan and see the burgeoning talent in the country and get them an opportunity to groom at the Fulham academy,” Haider told AFP.

Pakistan were among the top Asian footballing nations until the 1970s, but lack of government support and the overwhelming popularity of cricket left the game in the doldrums.

They now sit at a lowly 167th in FIFA rankings -- languishing below Bermuda, Palestine and the Solomon Islands -- but Haider claims signs of improvement are visible.

“We definitely have talent at our disposal. Look at our structure in which our Under-14 and Under-16 teams are doing well,” he said.

“We won the South Asian Under-16 title in Nepal in 2011 and will defend it later this month.”

British-born Pakistan international defender Zesh Rehman played for the Cottagers for several seasons, and Haider said there was more talent waiting to be unearthed.

“If Khan can send his scouts to Pakistan who can have a look at our talent and provide them with a facility at Fulham it would be a great help and the boys are excited at the prospect,” said Haider.

Football is particularly popular in Pakistan's restive south western province of Baluchistan, but poverty and poor security mean few young players get a chance.

Khan, who has US citizenship and who already owns the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, is ranked 179th in the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans, with an estimated worth of $2.5 billion. He made his fortune as a car parts manufacturer.

Haider said the fact Khan had taken over such a high-profile club would boost the game in Pakistan.

“It is very exciting for the football fraternity here that a Pakistani now owns top EPL club Fulham and we wish that under his ownership Fulham becomes a successful team,” Haider said.

Comments (36) Closed

Doubtful Jul 16, 2013 07:12pm

I highly doubt Khan will do anything for his old country. He is not known to have done anything for anyone, no charities, no philontrophical work, nothing. He just spend close to a billion dollars buying the Jacksonville Jaguars football team.(USA) and now Fulham. He is a made-for-self man. He wants to be in the spot light. Keep your hopes down please.

Omar Jul 16, 2013 08:17pm

As always ,begging. If we are such a hot commodity, our results would show that. Just because he was born in Pakistan does not mean that he has moral responsibility to groom hopeless talent. Remember,he bought the club as a business transaction and not as social work. Besides,Mr.Haider, it's your job to cultivate talent and groom as head of football. Atleast resign on principle if you are so sure that it's beyond your grasp. Stop collecting perks from the government yet blaming them at the same time.

Junaid Jul 16, 2013 09:16pm

With all due respect to Mr Haider and his wishes for Pakistani footballers, he must know that we will have to stop in-fights and financial corruption in our institutions which includes sports , and concentrate on core matters to finda and utilize the talent and show it to the world. Only then we stand any chance to attract foreign investers' intrest. We are counted among the countries where dishonesty is the best policy. The day we fix that image, the money will start pouring.

RK Jul 16, 2013 09:17pm

Really? He is a businessman ....... which player has represented any foreign club in football?

p r sharma Jul 16, 2013 09:45pm

Take over of the Fulham FC is a pure business decision and any expectation to revive the game of football or look for football talent in Pakistan and grooming them in FC's academy will be too much. successful businessmen do not mix Emotions with business .

Nasr Jul 16, 2013 11:36pm

He seems to be a very low profile guy and a humble man. His story coverage on CBS news 60 minute shows him of that character. And he has remained out of Pak Politics and limelight among his own countrymen here in US. Very few Pakistani even new him until he bought NFL Jacksonville

My name is Khan not a billionaire Jul 17, 2013 12:22am

This what happens when you become successful person! Everyone tries to gets some pride out of it. But if he didn't do well...nobody could have cared who is Shahid Khan!

Yousaf Jul 17, 2013 01:00am

He is an American and not a Pakistani. Just like I am an American. Our names do not make us Pakistani.

Shahryar Shirazi Jul 17, 2013 02:20am

What kind of a request is this ? People need to grow up and broaden their vision. This guy has nothing to do with Pakistan and just like any one else, he doesn't care ... Shahryar

Khan BaBa Jul 17, 2013 03:25am

I will suggest to mr Shahid Khan stay away from pakistanis,,, if you want to be successful. I am Pakistani American and i dont deal with any of em. No need to improve Pakistani soccer. We dont need Amir and Asif in the Fulham. God bless Pakistan and its people.

Desi from Lahore Jul 17, 2013 04:54am

@Yousaf : I'm an American too,33 years and I still haven't forgotten who I am and where I came from.Shah is still very much a Lahori and a Pakistani,his mother,brother and relatives still live there.Don't speak for Shah,you have no idea what he will do.

Akhtar Jul 17, 2013 06:36am

@Yousaf I am British and Pakistani. Regardless of where we live, our roots can never be disguised, changed, or forgotten. I am also successful (of course not as successful as Mr Khan here) but I would always help Pakistan and its people whenever and however I can. As far as I know, Shahid Khan does not consider himself Pakistani; he has an American wife, lives a western lifestyle, etc. (I'm not saying this is bad because I somewhat myself have integrated in to London and what I do may be seen as Western, and that's not bad) but Khan has never helped anyone in Pakistan in regards to charity, philantrophy and I think with the money he has, he should do something and can do something, even if that means changing a young man's life (like TET suggests). But congrats to him! And I always wish the best.

Hassan Jul 17, 2013 06:40am

Its not about being Pakistani or American, I won't advise him to look at the Pakistani raw talent for his club, I think the stakes are very high and he cannot afford to experiment with players with unproven track record. There is no need to be emotional about being born in Pakistan or in America... He has to be professional and unbiased.... which I believe he is if not he won't reach the heights he has achieved....

Hassan Jul 17, 2013 06:43am

@p r sharma: I totally agree with you, smart businessmen will never do this sort of silly mistake... its not about being born in Pakistan or in America... Its pure business and he cannot experiment with Pakistan raw and unproven self proclaimed talent....

Hassan Jul 17, 2013 06:45am

@Omar: Spot on Bro, its not his responsibility to groom our players, it is the responsibility of PFF to groom our players.

khan Jul 17, 2013 06:53am

@Yousaf : He who loses his roots will lose his children to come to the abyss.

Shahid Khan Jul 17, 2013 08:04am

Thank you for your request however the decision to select player belongs to the Coach and Technical staff I do not select player I only own the club.

Ali Jul 17, 2013 09:35am

@Yousaf : Have you seen 60 minute on Shahid Khan. Please do so before making comments who is asking you to be Pakistani ABCD (American Born Confuse Desi)

Basit Jul 17, 2013 10:15am

I am not sure Khan will do anything for Pakistan nor we should expect him to do so. We need to do something on our end to bring Pakistan to the top of FIFA ranking at least in the top 100 countries. If the whole structure cannot do so then we got no right to expect anything from a single US citizen Shahid Khan

Haseeb Jul 17, 2013 11:23am

@Yousaf : unless you are born in USA, you will always be a Pakistani first. The US passport will always say Pakistan as a place of birth. Not everybody is embarrassed about being a Pakistani as you are.

Fahad Jul 17, 2013 12:09pm

Yeah Right, When you get immigration of a country and you spend your life there then its your nationality, So, why do media keeps on calling them Pakistanis???? Boxer Aamir Khan is British, so does Lord Nazir Ahmad etc.

dr aziz Jul 17, 2013 12:19pm

then why u read pakistani news,read american news

Myself Jul 17, 2013 12:56pm

To support his roots or not, is Mr. Khan's personal decision. And I as a Pakistani for once would like to see Pakistanis stop expecting help from outside. Let the overseas Pakistanis help because of their emotional inclinations towards their homeland fine when they wish, otherwise. We in Pakistan should look after our existing and present home.

cameo9211 Jul 17, 2013 01:18pm

Majority of Pakistanis and Indians just don't look fit enough to play football. It is part genetic makeup and part nutrition. There are countries of few million people who have managed to produce better teams.

Now a lot of people will start going on and on about the lack of resources and money, but that is just not the case, football is the most universally accessible sport in the world, hence the popularity.

maula jutt Jul 17, 2013 02:40pm

@Yousaf : if you're american not pakistan then what are you doing here? don't be so proud dude

sali Jul 17, 2013 03:10pm

its our corrupt govt and infighting that has to be responsible. Not him. Fix your own house and stop depending on others.

Sohail Jul 17, 2013 03:52pm

It will be very good.

Chang Jul 17, 2013 03:55pm

@Yousaf : that is what I call an ABCD!

Talha Vaqar Jul 17, 2013 04:57pm

Will we now stop bring out our beggar's bowl every opportunity we get?

We sell our fellow countrymen in return for economic aid. We compromise on our values for material comforts. International financial institutions dictate internal policy in return for loans. And now we beg an expatriate to groom footballers for Pakistan... This is something which will have little or no consequence to the tsunami of problems (real problems) that confront us.

Will we now wake up? Will we now stop compromising on our values, if we have any? Will we now stop begging and putting ourselves 'under'?

Farooq Ashraf Jul 17, 2013 05:15pm

@Fahad: I always see pakistani flag near Amir Khan. He is proud of who he is.

Amjad Khan Jul 17, 2013 07:30pm

Dear Sir Mr. Shahid Khan, Ofcourse we dont expect you to pick up players from Pakistan & put them in Fulham. What we request you to do is help Pakistan football. You can help us in many other ways. we can have friendly matches, we can have training camps...

Fahad Jul 17, 2013 08:39pm

@Farooq Ashra He was born and raised in Britain, apart from skin tone and facial features he is not at all Pakistani. Bearing Pakistani flag is his own personal decision and I never understood why he does that. If am a Pakistani boxer and I go to international arena waving Indonesian flag what would Pakistani people feel? Yeah Right, they will feel ""Betrayed"".

javed qamer Jul 18, 2013 01:53am

@Shahid Khan:

In order for anybody to help Pakistani soccer Pakistan soccer federation has to put in some effort. By owning a soccer team in England Shahid Khan cannot dictate terms to his coach. Things work differently in European countries. We are all very proud for what Shahid Khan has done and I hope he continues on his success path. Pakistan soccer federation should start camps and groom talent. Ask the international federation for help in financing the soccer camps. Once the talent is seen I am sure offers of financial help will come.

Mike Jul 18, 2013 02:59am

Funniest quote ever "

Mike Jul 18, 2013 03:42am

@cameo9211: speak for yourself - leave India and Indians out of your discussions -- this is a pakistani website -- leave India out.

Raja Sher yar Jul 18, 2013 05:40am

Why not urged the government to built stadiums, why not urged federation organized good league, why not urged selection committee select player on merit and not be biased when selecting player, while not urged departments to be more generous in salaries and benefits of the players.... why not urged Board and it members not to spends and share FIFA grants on themselves rather spend it on sport ..... Why not urged more educated people in the PFF..... And can you urged Pakistani people bragging about the talent they have, instead start utilizing the talent they have....