It’s transfer time in club football. And, there’s a Malayali among the football agents who decide the future of players in the transfer market worth crores. His name is Shakeel Abdullah.

Shakeel knows nothing about the stars of astrological charts. But he can prophesy about the future stars of football. And, his prophesies can also change the course of these players.

Shakeel with Sahal Abdul Samad.

Shakeel Abdullah, the football agent ‘trades’ Malayali football players who were just content with counting the zeroes behind the price tags of international football stars. Shakeel is now a super agent for the leading football players of Kerala.

Shakeel, who is from Mogral village in Kasaragod district of Kerala, is at present the agent of 10 Malayali football players worth crores in the market, including Sahal Abdul Samad and Jobby Justin. He has been in this field ever since the notion of ‘football agent’ started to take root in India. His initial assignments were as the commercial personal manager of the players. He was the manager of the national players including Mohammed Rafi, N P Pradeep and Goan footballer Clifford Miranda.

Jobby Justin with Shakeel.

It was a meeting with the leading football agent Baljith Rihal who had visited Kochi during the first season of the ISL that changed the course of Shakeel’s life and career. The career of a professional football agent opened up before him. Shakeel was appointed as one of the two Indian agents of the international agency, Inventive Sports, that has the recognition of FIFA and UEFA. This agency was instrumental in bringing the international players like Iain Hume and Steve Coppell to India.

Shakeel soon realised that many footballers were just working for daily wages, without even grasping their own market value. He started to create profiles for the players, assessing their capabilities and started helping to make them sign contracts with leading clubs. There was Shakeel’s hand behind making Sahal Abdul Samad into a leading star with an annual remuneration of Rs 2 crore, from a mere monthly ‘wage’ of Rs 25,000. He also managed to take Kerala player Jobby Justin to ATK, the ISL club at almost the same remuneration.

Shakeel (right) with Sachin Tendulkar.

As he completes one decade of his career, Shakeel now manages 10 star players of India including Mohamed Irshad, star of Gokulam Kerala, Ubaid C K of East Bengal and Mashoor Shareef of Chennai City FC whose remuneration runs into eight digits.

Who is that Super Agent?

Jorge Mendes.

Who is the most power agent in world football? That super agent is Jorge Mendes, from Portuguese. He is the most influential power broker in the international star transfers. Mendes was the agent of the stars like Christiano Ronaldo, David De Gea, Jose Mourinho, Diego Costa and James Rodriguez. He is also a 5-time winner of the Globe Soccer Award as well.

Agent, the ‘God’ of players

The general public thinks that the football agent is just a ‘broker.’ However, the role of the agent is more than just being an intermediary between the players and the clubs. The professional agents play a big role in formulating the careers of players, along with the coaches and managers, recognising their abilities and expertises and nurturing the talents. The agents have an important say in deciding the clubs suitable for each player, the ‘commercial value’ and the ‘ad value’ of each player. The agents also play a big role in bringing the stars who lose form back on track, as well as in making them influential factors in the transfer market.

Imagine an agent comes across a potential player. So, what would be the next steps?

• The agent will study the player closely and recognise his abilities and weaknesses.

• Then, the agent will prepare a good profile of the player, highlighting the abilities and why he is important.

• This profile will be sent to the leading clubs. It will be prepared in such a way as to point out that the player could make a positive impact on the club.

• Even if the players are not yet known enough, they will be brought before the club leadership for the trials.

• In the case of well-known stars, the agent will directly enter into the negotiations regarding the remuneration and other conditions.

• The agent will also examine the contract agreement drafted by the clubs and ensure that the conditions are supportive to the players, and then only make them enter into the agreement.

• The leading stars will need the assurance from the clubs about getting a slot in the playing eleven in a particular number of matches in each season. It is the responsibility of the agent to ensure this assurance as well.

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