A Malayali name that is relatively unknown to the vast number of malayali football fans around the globe. An exceptional talent who has somehow succeeded in evading the eyes of the beautiful game’s fame and glory even though having played in various tiers of professional football in both Singapore and India. A rising prodigy who has built up his life through rigorous hard work and ever continuing efforts.
He was born on February 26th 1998, a child to Puthrnkurishil Jayan V.M. and Valsa Jayan, a couple residing at Ernakulam. He also has a sister named Janita. As a child, he initially found interest in cricket when he had joined M.A.M.H.S. Puthenkurushil for his preliminary education. The circumstances were suitable more for cricket, as every Indian can relate.
However, as fate would have it, a young Varghese Jayan was introduced to football during the weekly 45 minutes of P.T. class and thus began the long standing love story of his life. Varghese Jayan on this day recollects that that during the initial days, not much importance was given to the game. He could not wear a special jersey or football boots to fit his needs and had to be content with playing football in his school uniform. Walking away from the ground after a game, in his drenched uniform and his uniform shoes is still a sweet memory imprinted in his mind.
Jayan, started spending more time with football after school hours, when he moved to Pambakkada Adventure Public School for his seventh standard education. It was at Ebenezer Vettoor School that he completed his 10th grade education. During the summer vacations, he borrowed a jersey and a pair of boots from his friend in order to attend the trials of Byusifalas Football School. During the trials, he had to compete with numerous academy players and renowned school players, while he was attending the trials from the base of the abovementioned short experience with football.
In spite of this shortcoming, his raw talent didn’t go unnoticed as he was selected from the trials, thus strengthening his love relationship with the sport. It was during this stint that he learnt the very basics of football. Our prodigy decided to stay and play for the football school for over an year, perfecting his basics before anything else. Problems did arise, with him suffering due to the dust that would arise from the ground, for which he had to consult a doctor. The doctor opined that young Jayan should stop running to concentrate on his health. As a result, he decided to put a stop to his outfield antics for the time being.
But his will and love for football was too strong, failing to take him off a football ground. He tackled his problems and decided not to complain and take an alternate approach about the circumstances by swapping up his position to become a goalkeeper. His strength of will and perseverance became a talking point and an inspiring factor for anyone who watched with care. His rise was imminent and he was unstoppable. During his Higher Secondary education, He went on to earn goal keeping accolades and the love of the spectators through his acrobatic showings in various sevens competitions around the state.
Just like any other Indian parents, Varghese’s parents were also concerned about their son’s future, and decided to send him to S.R.M. University in Chennai for his future job and for a successful career. After an year of Polytechnic studies, a path opened for him to go to Singapore through an entrance exam. But absolutely nothing could distract Varghese from his craze for the beautiful game. His close friends worried for his polytechnic career as Varghese would use all of his spare time to play football, even when it was during his exams. Eventually though to everyone’s surprise, he acquired remarkable marks at the completion of the course.
But the ultimate dream still remained rooted in his mind. Life took a turn, when he decided to leave for Singapore on two minds. Thus began the second chapter of Varghese Jayan’s life and his undying love for Football.
His flight for Singapore was scheduled for midnight. He reached the next morning and before getting accustomed to the ways and facilities of the foreign land, he decided to travel around in pursue of a suitable football ground. The cultural difference between India and Singapore was beyond explanation. There were very few playing grounds available in the area that too which was in ownership of the Singaporean Government. One had to pre book and reserve his tickets to be able to play football. Varghese asked around and finally found a turf ground to suit his requirement. He hesitated to ask anyone for an opportunity to play due to nervousness and a lack of exposure. And to his aid from all these issues, came.. KERALA BLASTERS.
A Singaporean national named Qairin recognised the Kerala blasters jersey that Varghese was wearing. Varghese had bought this jersey when he attended an ISL away game of blasters, while he was pursuing his education in Chennai. Qairin enquired whether Varghese was a Kerala Blasters player, to which Varghese replied that he is merely a fan.
Varghese was struggling with the ways of a new country before the arrival of Qairin , the only thing that he was certain off was that he wanted to play. However, as he got talking to Qairin, he came to realise that Qairin was the Women’s team coach. As the friendship between them grew, Varghese was sent to Stephen Tan, a renowned school team coach. Stephen Tan was a yester year legend of Singaporean football. On understanding Varghese’s wish to play, Stephen tan did not disappoint and invited Varghese to join his team. Realising his natural ability and position, Mr. Tan asked Varghese to be an outfield player again, for the Temasek Poly school team. There, the Ernakulam native started climbing the stairs to being a professional footballer. He joined Younus Crescent, an N.F.L. First Division team with the help of a friend, and he quickly adjusted with the alien environment. Despite being a semi professional league, all the conditions and habitat around the team was extremely professional in nature.
Varghese decided to be financially independent, while juggling through studies, life and football. Varghese took up a part time job to sustain himself; he started taking care of the financial aspects of his life as he matured further. He took care of his food, studies and other expenses through the income that he was getting from working at a nearby airport etc. Varghese, who had joined Younus Crescent in mid 2017 joined the First Division club, Katong F.C. for the 2018-19 season.
Meanwhile through another friend, he got a wonderful opportunity to play for Jungfrau Football in an official friendly game. The friendly was against Geylang International, a Singapore Premier League Club, which is the top tier of the nation. The match was an exciting one, despite being an under 23 match as Varghese was rotated throughout the match, playing in various positions highlighting his versatility as a multi positional player. The wheel of fortune was in Varghese’s favour as, the first team coach of Geylang International; Mr. Noor Ali was present in the stands observing each and every aspect of the game. Noor Ali did not fail to see the versatility of Varghese who was excelling throughout the entirety of the encounter. He wasted no further time and invited Varghese to the reserve team of the prestigious club. Varghese did manage to catch the eyes of the gaffer, but could only train for the reserve side and not play , as the season’s calendar year was soon coming to a close.
Things seemed bright as he was ensured playing time for the upcoming season. However, yet another setback waited for him as the Football Association Singapore decided to shelve the reserve league entirely, replacing it with an Under 19 league. True, this move did shatter Varghese’s hopes, but not his determination as he continued to train and play for the school side. He proved again and again that he does not succumb to pressure and unfavourable situations. Without realising, he himself was being somewhat of a role model and an inspiration to the new players who were to face adverse circumstances.
Varghese got the opportunity to join the N.F.L. side Katong while simultaneously training with Balestier Khalsa. He had a drastic schedule of training under Croatian Head Coach Marco from Mondays to Satudays while playing Semi professional matches every Sunday, but this rough schedule only got him closer to the game he loved. The fact that his training club Balestier Khalsa had encountered East Bengal in the 2015-26 season during an AFC Cup bout excited him and remains as a cherished memory.
Varghese Jayan did find it difficult to keep up with the pace and intensity of the national level players in his earlier days. He was able to overcome this with his self confidence and self belief which did not go unrecognised as the Head coach decided against dropping him out of the squad even during Varghese’s bad days. Varghese’s sincerity towards the game and sheer will continued to impress the coach.
Due to his constant efforts to better himself as a footballer, he was able to get to a milestone soon. Varghese finally marked his professional football debut, playing the entire 90 minutes in the match against the Singapore Selection National Team in a friendly match. However, life was not done testing Varghese, not yet.
Three hours at the school, a job soon after that, football training, and a work shift. This was Varghese’s daily schedule as he struggled to sustain himself. Even during the dark days, he did not want to torment his family with his expenses. He worked continuously without any rest to make sure that his average monthly expense of 700 dollars was met. A teary eyed Varghese recalls memories of his friends with extreme gratitude, all those who had supported him to make ends meet when he was struggling financially.
There was even a time where; he could not continue his training cause of financial hardships and had to temporarily put his dream on hold. Varghese relentlessly worked for an entire month paying off all the liabilities he had. It was during this time that he got to hear that his old coach and friend Noor Ali was appointed as the Main Coach of Geylang international. This information sprouted hopes one again in his troubled mind.
On began the next phase of his journey, as Varghese re started his training, this time with Geylang international and Noor Ali as he started extremely upgrading his overall play and playing techniques, gathering vast number of game time and experience along with various national and international players around him. The thing to be noted was the Balestier team relied on a building up their play while Geylang concentrated on ground passes and possession play. It is extremely commendable how Varghese, the footballer was able to adjust to the different styles of play within a matter of few days. It was hardly an inconvenience for the versatile Indian.
How could any coach possibly ask for anything better? He announced his arrival to the league with a Man of the Match performance, and later, he moved to Jungfrau punggol where he continued his stellar performances with two more Man of the Match performances. The Singaporean teams were weaving magic with their football, when the Covid restrictions put a pause to everything as we know it. Strict lockdown restrictions limited Varghese’s training chances, but he decided to maintain his fitness by frequently jogging and working out at the gym.
Throughout all these achievements and breakthroughs in Singapore, the desire to play football in his motherland never left him. On expressing this desire, Varghese was able to secure a professional contract with the I-league side Neroca FC through a friend.
Varghese was the first Indian in history to play for Temasek Poly , the Singaporean team.
I reached out to coach Steven tan who commented on Varghese’s time in Temasek. He said that, “Varghese is very passionate about football, trains very hard and willing to learn. [He needed] to improve on his tactical part of his game and also believe in himself. The first 2 years was a learning curve for him. In his final year, he was able to play some games. Due to the quality of players in the TP team, it was hard for him to break into the 1st eleven. But he continued to train hard and I told him the end result will come later.”
An Ernakulam native with a dream of being a footballer, a boy next door, the same Varghese Jayan who used to visit stadiums and cheer for his favourite teams is playing in front of the excited fans now. The Warrior who thrived through various obstacles in his life and on the ground in an International setting is set to introduce himself to his fellow countrymen. The path ahead may be many, but the destination is the same. Football.
Varghese Jayan in his entirety is a person to be looked up to, for budding footballers who get disheartened by small defeats in their lives. He is a light for every passionate footballer who is thinking of giving up on their dream of becoming a footballer because of setbacks that life throws in front of you
For a career that was built by hard work and natural ability, Varghese Jain keeps his head down and is modest enough to proclaim that his career is still only starting up. He realises that there is more and more milestones to concur, along with Indian football which is only moving forward. He is not ready to measure the progress of his journey with the past, the ultimate goal is yet to be achieved. Glory awaits those who seek for it, new chapters are awaiting the Malayali on Indian soil.
The versatile player, who is currently contracted with Neroca FC assures that he will play with all of his heart and soul for any team that invites his presence on to their squad. The love story between Varghese Jayan and Football is starting to blossom and stories should be written about this.
One thing is for sure, Varghese Jayan , the footballer is here to stay and he does not back down from a fight. Malayalis can be proud; We have a warrior amongst us.