A Beggar’s Journey From Kerala Streets To Real Madrid 

R Manikandan - Sakshi Post

Teenage football sensation R Manikandan’s story comes upon as the typical rags to riches story. Rescued while begging with his sister on the streets of Kerala by a children’s home back in 2011, this 14-year-old is now all set to live his dream for a month-long stay in Spain alongside the stars of the iconic La Liga club Real Madrid. Clearly, this going-to-be Los Blancos trainee’s life was nothing like what we know of him today.

R Manikandan is not your regular football-loving 14-year-old imitating fancy Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi free-kicks and skills during practice sessions. Football for him is a way of life. He is gifted with pure pace and agility that caught the eye of foreign coaches in Chennai. His story is heart-wrenching.

He's seen it all in his early teens. According to reports, Manikandan would once beg for survival on the streets of Kerala. Roughly six years ago, a woman spotted him and his sister in a precarious condition and got them rescued by the children's home in Kollam.

The six-foot-tall teenager is an avid Leonel Messi fan. He, along with the othe children, was regularly taken to the Fatima Mata College for football sessions. There, Manikandan impressed everyone. His coach MP Abhilash included him in a squad with senior players. From there on, he never looked back. "I spotted him in last February. In just one year, he has improved brilliantly and I feel if he’s groomed well, he will be an asset to the country. His technique and agility are superb and his height adds to his prowess," Abhilash said.

He was subsequently spotted by several coaches and scouts who visited India on a regular basis. Manikandan is currently on a month-long trip to Spain, where he will train with La Liga and Champions League giants Real Madrid. He is also scheduled to travel to Latin America for further training after his Madrid stint.

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