Fellow players like Sunil Chhetri and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu also have a deal with the German merchandise giant.

The Indian Football Team and Kerala Blasters midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad has become the first-ever Indian footballer to feature on Puma’s global, Puma Football, Twitter handle. “There is a new PUMA in town,” read Puma Football’s caption in their tweet posted on Monday.

Sahal Abdul Samad is one of the most exciting talents in Indian football, having earned the praise of fans and pundits alike with his dazzling performances for the Blue Tigers and his club Kerala Blasters. The youngster also won the Football Players Association of India (FPAI) Fans’ Player of the Year award in July 2019.

The 23-year-old signed a deal with Puma Football in June, becoming the third Indian footballer, after captain Sunil Chhetri and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to be represented by the German sports giant. The attacking midfielder also holds company as a Puma Global Ambassador now, alongside the likes of Marco Reus, Sergio Aguero, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez and Romelu Lukaku among others.

Khel Now caught up with Baljit Rihal, the CEO of Inventive Sports, Sahal’s representatives, to discuss the circumstances that led to the deal between the player and Puma.

“Sahal’s deal with Puma wasn’t something that happened overnight. As you already know, he won the AIFF Emerging Player of the Year award and the ISL Emerging Player of the Season in 2018-19. He was definitely earmarked for success and obviously there was a lot of interest in him as a player. Hence, as his agency, we started looking for sponsorship because we wanted him to be recognized globally,” Baljit Rihal said.

He further added, “A couple of brands showed utmost interest to endorse Sahal. One of them was Puma, and as we were impressed with their vision not only for Sahal but also for Indian football, we started negotiating with them. Shakeel Abdulla and Wilbur Lasrado of Inventive Sports led the discussions from India, and talks were held for over six months. Sahal was also an integral part of the discussions and based on his inputs along with our terms, we finally agreed a deal with them.”

“Famous Indian athletes like Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Mary Kom, Sunil Chhetri and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu are already a part of the Puma family. To have Sahal join them is not only a big boost to the player himself, but it also paves the way for Indian football to gain more recognition on a global scale. At Inventive Sports, our vision is to help in the development of the sport in the country in all ways possible, and we feel this is a step in the right direction,” Baljit Rihal concluded.

The player himself stated, “I am happy to be part of the Puma family and represent Indian football. Sharing a platform with star players from the best European teams means so much to me. I am grateful to Puma for welcoming me with open arms. I look forward to a great journey together.”

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