Asian Star returns to Stamford Bridge in May and former winner Sam Khan believes he wouldn’t be where he is now if his father hadn’t signed him up for the event back in 2011.
After winning Asian Star, Khan (pictured above top right) was successful in his trial at Chelsea but made the decision to join Birmingham City where he stayed for three years before moving on to Nottingham Forest.
The youngster then had a short stint at semi-pro football club Tamworth and now currently represents the Gordon Strachan Football Foundation.
He said: ‘I found out about Asian Star through an advert on the internet and it was my dad who saw it when I was about nine and he didn’t really give me an option as he just booked it and told me I was going!
‘Before Asian Star I was just playing standard Sunday league football and training a couple times a week – nothing too serious but the Asian Star helped me massively because without the Asian Star my name wouldn’t have been out there.
‘Since winning the Asian Star I’ve played for numerous clubs and now I’m at the Gordon Strachan’s Football Foundation which isn’t much different to a semi-pro football club but it gives us more opportunities to play against clubs and get picked up.
‘We go to St George’s Park a lot and work with UEFA A Licence coaches, we are in numerous leagues and so its good opportunities to get spotted.
‘I’m hoping to work my way back up again and hopefully get picked up by a club soon. I want to be playing first team football for a professional club, whether that’s in League One, the Championship or the Premier League, I hope to make it somewhere.’
Back in 2011, Asian Star took place at our Cobham Training Ground but in May it will take place at Stamford Bridge and Khan feels it is a great opportunity for young hopefuls to play where the likes of Eden Hazard, David Luiz and N’Golo Kante play week in week out.
‘When I attended Asian Star it was at the training ground so I didn’t get to experience it at Stamford Bridge but now it’s being held there its great experience for the younger generation.
‘To play at the stadium that the first team play in, I can imagine how great it can be for them.
‘For those attending I’d tell them to not be nervous, to express themselves, be confident, don’t hold back and to show the coaches everything that you’ve got because there are lots of scouts there.
‘It’s a great experience and a great chance to show people what you’ve got.’
Asian Star was launched in 2009 and has grown in size ever since, attracting almost 400 young players and their parents to Stamford Bridge last year, where they competed in a series of matches and skills sessions. The winners in each age group were all invited to join the Chelsea Foundation’s Football Development Centres.
The initiative, the first of its kind undertaken by a professional football club, was recognised with the ‘Special Recognition’ Award at the Asian Football Awards in November 2017, is available for both girls and boys, aged 9 to 12 with applications now open.
Asian Star returns on Saturday 18 May, with applications for players aged 9-12 now open.