These players showed glimpses of their superb talent early on but lack of match fitness made them conclude their careers prematurely.

Promising defender Anwar Ali has been advised against playing football by the Asian Football Confederation. The 20-year-old was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition last year. Due to that, his flourishing career might not reach its full potential. There have been some similar instances in Indian football previously. Few notable players have had their careers cut short due to different fitness issues. These individuals plied trade at prominent clubs. However, they could never really do justice to their talent.

In this article, Khel Now elaborates on three such players:

3. Khalid Jamil

Khalid Jamil is renowned for his exploits as a coach for Aizawl FC. However, he had a brief playing career too. The 43-year-old represented India from 1997-2002. Jamil had made his debut for the Blue Tigers in SAFF Championship 1997. He played seven matches in the FIFA World Cup 2002 Qualifiers.

In a match against Malaysia in 2004, he felt a jerk in his right knee. Later, it was revealed that there was a tear in his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Jamil avoided undergoing surgery. Instead, he took regular painkillers and kept on playing. Gradually, his left knee’s condition deteriorated too. He went under the knife only in 2008. Eventually, Khalid Jamil retired at the age of 32 in 2009.

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2. Gabriel Fernandes

Gabriel Fernandes represented several top clubs from Goa in his playing days. He was a quick winger and displayed commendable footwork. The 32-year-old had joined FC Goa ahead of the inaugural ISL season. Fernandes also played for the likes of Mumbai City FC and East Bengal later on. However, recurrent muscular injuries derailed his career.

At one point, he was unable to run and dribble like before due to the same issues. Fernandes suffered many muscle injuries in his lower body during his time in Kolkata. He decided to halt his career in India thereafter. He has shifted to England now. The winger plays football on weekends for leisure at Shrivenham FC in the Hellanic Premier League.

1. Lester Fernandez

Lester Fernandez was a part of the ATK (then Atletico de Kolkata) squad that lifted the ISL title in 2014. After that season, he shifted to represent the erstwhile Bharat FC in 2015. Fernandez played nine games in the I-League for the club. However, he soon suffered an ACL injury during a match against East Bengal. In an interview with Goal, Fernandez revealed that FC Goa were about to sign him in 2015. He had even received contract papers from the Gaurs.

However, his injury sidelined him for eight months and he couldn’t complete the move. In the meantime, Bharat FC shut down. The 33-year-old was close to joining Mumbai FC and Chennai City FC in 2016 and 2017 respectively. However, both those transfers fell apart eventually. A few months away from the sport meant that he found no takers thereafter. In 2019-20, Fernandez played for Kenkre FC in the MDFA Elite Division.