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Chopra Feature
 First appeared in "India Today" 23.12.00

Footballer of Indian origin gets ready to storm England 

What’s common between Alan Shearer and Michael Chopra? Both are football strikers. Both went to the same school – Gosforth High School – and both wear the same No. 9 shirt for their respective sides – Shearer for the National side of England and Chopra for England’s Under-17 squad.

The similarities probably end here. For Shearer, the former England captain, is already an international while the 17-year-old Chopra (he is celebrating his birthday today!) is just beginning to get noticed in the “Home of Football”.


On Saturday, Chopra took his first step towards creating history. He gave himself a nice birthday present, signing a three-year professional contract with the Newcastle United side and will now get a chance to realise a dream that took birth when he first walked into St James Park as a five-year-old, led by his father Minty Chopra.

A dream to play for the English National side – that’s what Michael desperately wants; and if he achieves that, the youngster of Indian origin will become the first Asian to represent the English side.

Chopra, who has 19 caps with the English National side having played in under-15, under-16, under-17 national squads, has nine international goals to his credit. And if the English papers are to be believed, he is the hottest prospect in English football today. He has just been selected for the England Under-17/18 Winter Training Camp.

How did it all start? Michael joined the Newcastle United club and played for Under-9 team and progressed through United's School of Excellence under the guidance of John Carver - now first team coach - and current Academy Director Alan Irvine.

He signed a scholarship agreement in July and so far this season has been in prolific form in the FA Premier Academy Under 17 League with 10 goals to his name. He has also been involved with United's reserves on a couple of occasions.

In a recent interview to an England-based website, Michael said: “John Carver (Magpies’ first team coach) asked my dad if he would be interested in taking me to Newcastle for a trial and that's how it started. Since then I've been playing for Newcastle all my life, from starting with the Under Nines right up to the present day with the Under 17's.”

Carver first saw Michael in action for the Montague Boys Club as an eight-year-old and was quick to realise Michael's potential.

Michael is probably the most talked about youngster in his team, but he is by no means allowing himself to get carried away. He said in an interview: “I know some people are already saying I will play for the first team, but I don't let that talk get to me. I just take it in my stride. I've always had my heart set on being a footballer ever since I was six, and to play for Newcastle United.”

“Just the thought of having the chance to make it as a footballer is the perfect motivation. I might have to make some sacrifices, I cannot always go out with my friends. But you have to work hard if you want to make it in football, and my parents are a great help too."

Michael has got great support from his parents, Minty and Sharon. Minty, a newsagent, got Michael hooked on Newcastle from an early age. Michael has seen a galaxy of stars over the years, but picks out his favourites easily: “Andy Cole and Peter Beardsley, And I would love to achieve what Alan Shearer has.

Shearer's involvement with England drew to a close this summer, and Michael is already busy picking up the threads from there.

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Page last updated 24 June, 2009