An impoverished teenager whose mother works the infamous red-light district of Kolkata has been chosen to train with Premiership giants Manchester United.
Rajib Roy, 16, who lives with his sex worker mother in a tiny single room, was spotted by Man U scouts at a local tournament in India.
He will join 10 other young Indian footballers who will begin a two-week training program at Old Trafford this weekend.
Rajib said yesterday: “People keep asking me how it feels to be my mother’s son and then achieve something like this.
“I don’t know how to answer that question.
“But when my coach told me I had been selected by Manchester United it was like a father’s recognition.
“My mother is a very shy person. She would lock me in my room after lunch so that I could take a nap, but I would quietly sneak out to play with my friends.
“Last month I was selected along with 30 others to participate in a camp in Goa through a nationwide school championship competition.
“I arrived late because I took a train from Kolkata. Everybody else took a flight.
“There were children from rich families who spoke English but I made friends quickly.
“There was a boy from Mumbai who spoke very good English and translated for me when I interacted with the coaches.
“He told me that it was perfectly fine if I was not able to communicate in English – a lot of Spanish footballers don’t speak English either.”
Rajib’s talents were first spotted two years ago during a football tournament organized by the principle of a school dedicated to the children of sex workers in Kolkata.
Earlier this year Rajib was in the West Bengal team which won the National Slum Soccer Tournament in Nagpur.
The mother of another boy making the trip to Old Trafford this weekend makes a living selling snacks from a street stall in Kolkata.
Like Rajib, Arko Dey has no father and lives in a small rented house with his mother and 11-year-old sister where they are under constant threat of eviction.
Arko,17, said: “My mother wept. We live in abject poverty. She knows nothing about Manchester United.”