Olympics Begin In
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.


Daniel Gurung - Rare footballer from Arunachal ruffles Everton

Arunachal Pradesh is not known for many footballers, but it was the mercurial Daniel Gurung who got closest to scoring against Everton in the Next Generation Cup.

Daniel Gurung - Rare footballer from Arunachal ruffles Everton

Daniel Gurung (right) in action at the Premier League Next Generation Cup (RFDL)


Dipankar Lahiri

Updated: 21 May 2023 9:12 AM GMT

Navi Mumbai: There have been some big names at the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) and the ongoing Next Generation Cup this season, but some who have caught the eye have been brand new finds. Some have even emerged from unusual locations - like Sudeva FC’s Daniel Gurung of Changlang, Arunachal Pradesh.

It was the 18-year-old midfielder who got closest to scoring against Premier League side Everton in the 0-1 defeat on Saturday, his chipped shot beating the keeper Dylan Graham but missing the top corner by centimetres.

The attempt was a replica of the goal he had scored against Bengaluru FC in the RFDL final. Then too, it had been in a losing cause. At the end of the RFDL final, Daniel was seen sitting away from the rest of his teammates, seemingly even more distraught than the others.

“These are the biggest tournaments in my career. I’ve only played in Arunachal and Delhi state leagues before. To play against the top teams in India like ATK Mohun Bagan and to play against Premier League teams is a dream come true for me. I hope my performances can take me to the senior level soon,” Daniel said.

The spirited Sudeva side kept Everton's youth side at bay for almost the entire match, conceding a goal in stoppage time.

“I think we could have won this match. We created our chances but unfortunately we could not capitalise on them. This is football and there is a regret of not winning,” Sudeva coach Chencho Dorji said after the match in the Reliance Foundation Premier League Next Generation Cup.

A rare footballer from Arunachal

A cool midfielder who seems to have more time with the ball than most others, the most surprising part about Daniel’s story is that he has emerged from nowhere in the last year or two.

He was playing in local matches and school matches in Changlang of Arunachal Pradesh when Sudeva FC scouted him and gave him a residential scholarship in Delhi in 2021.

“There’s no football culture in Arunachal Pradesh. There’s no scope to do anything with football, it’s not like Manipur. Gyamar Nikum has emerged now, but we don’t have any role models to follow. There are no leagues, maybe there are no funds with the government,” Daniel said about his unusual origin story.

Daniel’s father was a state-level footballer, but since he could not forge a future in the game, he became a timber businessman and now runs a hotel in Miao. Because Daniel thought he would have to follow his father’s path, he studied hard in school and would have pursued higher studies in some city in the Indian mainland had Sudeva FC not come calling.

Asked if chipped goals are his favourite, he said, “My favourite moment of the last few weeks was the assist I gave in one of the matches I came on as a substitute. The coach started to trust me more after that… I have a long way to go.”

Daniel Gurung and his young band of brothers at Sudeva FC will next be in action against the youth side of Wolverhampton Wanderers at 8 pm on Tuesday.

Next Story