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Santosh Trophy snub to veteran player

Ranchi, May 3: For Jharkhand’s international footballer Sanjay Kumar Parte, the upcoming Santosh Trophy in Assam brings on an adrenaline rush.

But instead of excitement, his emotion is fury.

After being verbally invited to join the team, the veteran soccer player was finally not included in the Jharkhand squad for the prestigious tourney at Tinsukia, Assam, to be held from May 6 to 20. And the player blames the state football association for this snub.

Parte, a product of St Ignatius, Gumla Football Centre, represented India in the Under-19 and Under-22 teams, and also played for leading football clubs across India such as Mohan Bagan, East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting, Mahindra United, Mumbai Football Club, and Salgaonkar, Goa. He also represented Jharkhand in the 2006 edition of Santosh Trophy played in Kerala.

At the Birsa Munda stadium here this evening, Parte recounted the puzzling incident, which still has him smarting.

“I was in Mumbai when Jharkhand Football Association secretary Ghulam Rabbani contacted me over phone and asked me to rush to Jamshedpur for the selection of the state football team for Santosh Trophy. I asked him why he called me when the team was already fixed. Rabbani told me not to worry and to come over as I was a part of the team. But when I reported at Jamshedpur, I found I was not,” Parte fumed.

“And, when I tried to contact Rabbani , his mobile remained switched off,” he added.

An international player from Jharkhand, Ajay Singh, chipped in: “This is a gross insult to a player of his (Parte’s) stature. Why did Rabbani call him and asked him to come over and then let him down? He was in Mumbai and was getting an offer to play for Maharashtra.”

Parte confirmed that he had an offer to play for Maharashtra. “But on Rabbani’s invitation, I decided to rush to Jamshedpur so that I could play for my home state. I spend more than Rs 5,000 on travel, too. But who would have thought that the secretary of a state football association would behave in this manner. His mobile phone is still switched off,” he said.

For his version of the incident, Rabbani did not respond to The Telegraph despite frequent calls on his mobile.

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