Home is where the heart is for Malappuram’s prodigal son Abdul Hakku

MANJERI: Manjeri is a town of contradictions. Situated along the confluence of the Western Ghats and the Nilgiri Hills, the populous town seems to be picturesque, but is ever bustling with activity. Perhaps the only time when one is likely to find the streets connecting Manjeri to the rest of the Malappuram district empty are on the evenings of the holy month of Ramzan, when its inhabitants quietly head into their humble abodes to break their day-long fast.

Yet, there’s another kind of inhabitants in the area, who, over the last few weeks, has been planning their activities with different intentions. Their fast is quickly broken as the sun shrouds between the hills, as they head to the Manjeri Payyanad Stadium, which is nestled on the side of one of these hills that surround their beautiful town. The stadium, which otherwise looms over deserted hillsides, is awash with activity.

The crowd that had come to the Manjeri Payyanad Stadium on Wednesday, April 5, was treated to something special, as they saw one of their local boys, Abdul Hakku, bulge the net for local side Gokulam Kerala FC.

“It was a very special moment for me to score in front of the home fans here,” Hakku told the-aiff.com. “My elder brothers were also in the stands to watch out game, and I really wanted to do well in front of them. I’m happy that I could score in front of my home fans, and I’m even happier that I could score in front of my brothers.”

While it was the first time he had scored at the Manjeri Payyanad Stadium, it was not the first time he netted against Gokulam’s opponents for the night, Mohammedan Sporting.

“I don’t know what the connection is. Mohammedan are a very good side, one of the best in the Hero I-League, but it seems that I love scoring against them. I had scored against them in their home match in Kolkata earlier, and now again in my home turf. It’s always nice to score,” said the defender.

Hailing from the Malappuram district, Hakku is a rare species who got into serious football in his late teens, before which, he would keep switching between volleyball, badminton, and Malappuram’s own version of the beautiful game – seven’s football. However, he was later inducted into Sports Academy Thiru, where he started training full time to become a footballer.

The 28-year-old has since gone on to become a bit of a journeyman, starting his career with DSK Shivajians, before playing for clubs like Fateh Hyderabad, NorthEast United, Kerala Blasters, Real Kashmir, and finally returning to his hometown club, Gokulam Kerala. The defender even represented Maharashtra in the Hero Santosh Trophy back in 2015.

“I came to Gokulam Kerala in the winter transfer window, and I must say, it made me very happy to be back home, to play for a club that operates from this close to my hometown,” said Hakku with a toothy grin. “I feel quite content here.”

The Hero Super Cup is being held across two venues – Manjeri Payyanad Stadium in Manjeri, and the EMS Corporation Stadium, Malappuram, and the ardent followers of football in the area are excited.

“Football is the number one sport in the Malabar side. Malappuram, Kannur, Wayanad are areas that live, breathe and eat football,” said Hakku. “It doesn’t matter who is playing. If there is football action happening somewhere, you can be rest assured that there will be fans in the stands.”

Also Read: Dennerby sets new target on eve of return tie against Kyrgyz Republic

Also Read: Last two Hero Super Cup Group Stage slots up for grabs

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