The young Kerala Blasters defensive midfielder Jeakson Singh celebrates his 20th birthday today. Many people might have forgotten, but he holds a special place in Indian football history.
Jeakson is the only Indian footballer to have ever scored a goal at an official FIFA World Cup event. In 2017, when India hosted the U-17 FIFA World Cup, Jeakson Singh was part of India's squad. Unfortunately, the Blue Tigers crashed out in the group stages, losing all three group games and scoring one solitary goal. Jeakson Singh scored the one goal that India scored at that entire tournament, and that embedded him in the history books of Indian football forever.
It was the second match of the group stages, and India played Colombia at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. They were trailing 1-0 in the game, and India got a corner in the 82nd minute. Sanjiv Stalin placed the ball at the corner line and swung the ball inside, hoping that his teammates would head home. However, his teammate Jeakson Singh rose the highest in the opposition box and headed home to score India's first goal at any FIFA World Cup event. The was a moment the whole nation had been waiting for, and Jeakson Singh served it.
When Stalin swung that corner in, Jeakson Singh moved inside and patiently waited for the ball to come to drop on his head so that he could score a goal. It was a goal for a billion people. The roar by the fans at the JLN stadium summed what that goal meant to the nation. The tears of joy and the euphoria to see India score at a world cup was unmatched. The celebration of the goalscorer also told many tales, and the crowd was at their feel it that very moment.
The celebration was short-lived as the Indian team conceded a goal a minute later and lost the match 2-1. The result may not have gone in our way, but the moment was extraordinary for India and etched Jeaksons name in Indian football history.
Jeakson celebrates his 20th birthday today, and we wish him a very happy birthday. The country will never forget that goal he scored in 2017, India's only goal to date at any FIFA World Cup.