Michael Chopra takes a strike at achieving his goal of Indian passport

Rupanjana Dutta Thursday 30th July 2015 06:48 EDT

Former Newcastle and Cardiff City striker Michael Chopra returns to India to achieve his goal of being adopted by his ancestral nation and secure an Indian passport.

As the grandson of Indian nationals, Chopra hopes to permanently return to his roots and play professional football for the Indian National team, following his debut for Kerala Blasters last year. However, domestic regulations in India state that in order to represent the country, players must have an Indian passport - something Michael is yet to attain.

Chopra's history is key to achieving his Indian Citizenship. As the son of Minty Chopra, an Indian man whose parents left India to seek their fortune in the UK in the late 1950's, and English mother, Sharon Chopra, he has always been very proud of his dual heritage. By returning to India with an Indian passport, the world famous striker would be able to settle and play the sport he loves, in a place his spirit has always thought of as home.

Earlier this year whilst addressing a gathering of Indians in South Korea, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that in his one year in power, the world's perception of India had changed and people had become excited about returning to their country.

PM Modi said, "Citizens of India wanted to leave the country for better opportunities. Now they are ready to return even if they earn less in India than abroad."

Michael Chopra's career, starting from the Newcastle United Academy in 1993, spans 22 years, playing for teams such as Cardiff City, Blackpool and Ipswich Town but his fondest memories are from his time at Kerala Blasters, part of the Indian Super League, in 2014. Chopra wants to return to India to become a part of raising the profiles of the teams and to encourage young players in India to reach for their dreams too.

Chopra said, "I am really looking forward to returning to India this summer and I hope that my ancestral home will welcome my decision to forgo my British Passport in return for an Indian nationality. India is where my spirit lives and I hope that I can one day represent the country I love on a national footballing stage. I was born in Britain, brought up in Newcastle but, phi bhi dil hain Hindustani."

Having acknowledged his British background for most of his career, Chopra now hopes that his Grandparent's homeland will adopt him with open arms. Over four years ago, Chopra took the first steps towards receiving an Indian passport by applying for his OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) card, which after five years, allows a person to apply for the passport.

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