Why Didn’t Michael Chopra Play For India?

Hamish Woodward

Michael Chopra is fondly remembered by Cardiff City fans as a fantastic goalscorer, although international glory always eluded the Englishman.

However, it is a little-known fact that the former Newcastle youth player was eligible to play for India (through his father) and was the first ever player of Indian origin to play in the Premier League.

However, he never managed to get a cap for the Indian National team and the reason has recently been revealed by the former coach of the Indian National Team, Stephan Constantine.

Why Didn’t Michael Chopra Play For India?

Michael Chopra did not play for India due to not having Indian Citizenship. Despite having an Indian father, he was born in the UK and did not have Indian Citizenship. There are rules within the UK and India which dissuade dual-citizens, meaning that he would need to give up his rights as a British citizen if he were to take the plunge and make the move to play for the Indian National team.

In 2016, then-India Coach Stephen Constantine revealed that Michael Chopra would not play for India due to his continued reluctance to get Indian citizenship. He took shots at the former Cardiff City striker, claiming he was “well past it” and that it would take him two more years to earn the chance to play the country of his father.

Speaking to the Times of India, Constantine said:

“It’s not going to happen. He’s 32 (years old) now. Even if he decides to apply for Indian citizenship, the entire process will take at least two years. He’s already well past it,”.

The then went on to add that the former Newcastle star was offered the chance to represent India in 2002. However, Michael Chopra turned down the chance to play for India two decades ago, instead playing for England at various youth levels and holding out hope for a call up for the senior national team.

“If he really wanted an international career, he had the chance in 2002. I had given him a call and spoken about how he could add value to our team then. He didn’t take it up and that’s that”.

Sadly, after leaving Cardiff City for Sunderland in 2007, his goals dried up and he never reached the heights he had the year prior. The former Newcastle striker bounced around a variety of clubs before signing for David James’ Indian Super League club, Kerala Blasters in 2014. He came to the club with huge expectations, being the only ever player of Indian origin to play and score in the Premier League.

He did not live up to expectations placed upon him. In his first season with the Blasters, he failed to score a single goal. He only played 9 matches due to injury issues, and was heavily criticised for his fitness issues. He was described by fans as “Finished” and “he became a bit of a meme” due to his lack of ability and fitness issues. He returned to the club two years later and scored a single goal, although his signing was considered a huge disappointment.

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