He is barely 14 and stands at just 5 feet 6 inches, but his small stature is already making heads turn in English football circles.
A recent winner of the Up and Coming Player prize at the 2013 Asian Football Awards held at Wembley, Yan Dhanda is already making a name for himself with football pundits rating him the next big prodigy from Asia.
The journey of a young Indian origin player is already underaway, with Dhanda being part of the prestigious Liverpool FC academy which he joined in July this summer. Before joining Liverpool, he spent time with clubs like Aston Villa (English Premier League), West Bromwich Albion (English Premier League), Birmingham (Championship), and Walsall (Football League 1).
The 14-year-old attacking midfielder is enjoying every minute of his time at the Liverpool academy.
“It’s really good. I’ve just got used to everything. I’ve made loads of friends. I’m learning a lot from the coaches and what the coaches expect from me. I’m learning lots of different things. I had a bit of a break between leaving West Brom and joining Liverpool. When I got to Liverpool my fitness wasn’t as good as it should have been. The sports science team at Liverpool have been working with me and now I’ve got my fitness back up and I’m learning different roles: like playing on the left, playing on the right, playing as a number nine. I’m a creative midfielder, but I play on the wing at Liverpool, coming in off the left, or coming in off the right. Liverpool have played me as a nine as well, dropping down. And I like to score goals,” he recently told the Liverpool FC India community.
The Birmingham born youngster, who started his career with a small team called Tipton Town, now wants to focus his entire energy on achieving his dream. “Short-term is to keep getting fitter, work on both feet, keep developing as a player, keep listening to the coaches and learning from them. My long-term ambition would be to get in to the first team before I am 20. That is the dream, but I am a million miles away from that now so I just have to keep my head down and work as hard as I possibly can every day.”
The youngster hasn’t gotten the opportunity to meet the Merseyside stalwarts, but he is expecting the meeting to happen sooner or later.
“I grew up liking David Silva, but since I’ve moved to Liverpool, my favorite footballer has been Philippe Coutinho because he plays in a similar position and I try to play the same way as him. I really admire Steven Gerrard for all he’s done in the game and coming through the ranks. He started where I am now. Jamie Carragher has gone now, but he did it the same way. I really respect that.”
He concluded with a short message for all Indian fans by quoting, “I’d like to thank all the fans for the support they have shown me. The Indian Liverpool fans and the Liverpool fans in general have been brilliant. Even football fans who are not Liverpool fans, but are Indian, have really encouraged me and wished me well.”