While everyone was busy with the much-anticipated India vs. Pakistan match in the Asia Cup, an Indian player has grabbed attention globally for a historic feat. Manisha Kalyan, the Indian footballer made history on Saturday by becoming the first Indian ever to score in the UEFA Women's Champions League.
Playing for Apollon Ladies FC, scored the goal against WFC Samegrelo of Georgia. "Here she goes! 1st Indian to score in the UEFA Women's Champions League" wrote Apollo Ladies on its social media account.
The Indian striker, who started the game on the bench, stepped into the field as a substitute in the 55th minute of the second half. Even though Manisha could not convert the first chance she got, but succeeded in the second in the 71st minute.
The Indian received a pass just inside the WFC Samegrelo box on the left. After finding the goalkeeper Andrea Fernandes coming out of line, she dispatched the ball into the goal through the far corner. Apollon Ladies won the match 3-0 and advanced to the second round.
Manisha has been in impressive form. Last week, during the UWCL qualifiers against ZFK Ljuboten, she had three assists as Apollon Ladies defeated the North Macedonian side 9-0.
But who is Manisha Kalyan?
It is pertinent to mention that Manisha Kalyan became the first Indian footballer to feature in a UEFA Women's Champions League match as she had made her debut for top-tier Cypriot club Apollon Ladies FC in August 2022.
Originally from Muggowal, located in the district of Horshiarpur, Punjab, made her international debut at the age of 17 against Hong Kong in January 2019. The young striker shot to fame after scoring a goal against Brazil in November 2021. India went on to lose the match 6-1 but Manisha Kalyan caught the attention of the international clubs after an impressive performance.
Manisha Kalyan represented Gokulam Kerala in the Indian Women’s League (IWL) for three seasons before parting ways earlier this year. She helped the Malabarians win the title twice, in 2019-20 and 2021-22, during her stay there.
Apart from this, in the 2020–21 season, she was named the AIFF Women's Emerging Footballer of the Year. In 2022–23, she was recognized as the AIFF Women's Player of the Year.
Manisha Kalyan's journey with Apollon Ladies FC so far
After winning the AIFF Women's Player of the Year award in the 2021-22 season, Manisha signed a multiple-year deal with Cypriot League champions Apollon Ladies FC. She made her debut for the club in a UEFA Women's Champions League Qualifier against Riga FS on 18 August 2022. Her first goal for the club came in the Limassol Derby against Aris Limassol on October 2 of the same year.
She lifted the Cypriot First-Division League title in the 2022-23 season, making her the only Indian, male or female to win a top-flight league in Europe. Also, the only Indian to have appeared in the UEFA Champions League, she took things further by netting a goal in the tournament.
At the age of just 21, Manisha Kalyan has been successful in making her one of the few Indian women footballers alongside the likes of Bala Devi, Aditi Chauhan and Ashalata Devi to be recruited by a foreign club.