Bradford City captain and Pakistan international footballer Zesh Rehman was honoured at a private reception held by British Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street this week.
In a speech at the reception, the Prime Minister said he wanted to “celebrate the immense contributions” British Asians like Zesh Rehman have made to this country.
The Bantams star said: “This is a distinguished moment for not only for me as Club Captain, but also an incredible honour for Bradford City AFC and the City of Bradford. Together we have achieved positive recognition on a national scale.”
As the first ever Asian Captain of Bradford FC, Rehman stood among other British Asians who have contributed to the rich landscape of British society.
Quizzed by the PM and Nick Clegg on his achievements, Zesh said: “Being one of only two British Asians playing professional football, I was happy to speak to both David Cameron and Nick Clegg about my career and some of the racial hurdles and barriers that I have overcome to make the grade. The PM also commented on monitoring my progress for a number of years and said he remembered me from my Premiership and Championship days with Fulham and QPR”.
“He seemed a little mystified as to why I had been in and out of the side this season despite leading the team to good results and performances”.
“They were both also very supportive of my Foundation I launched in May and believe it will achieve its aims of bridging the cultural gap in our society through the power of football”.
Rehman’s last ten starts in the league have seen City boast an impressive run, Rehman continued: “In the last ten starts I have had in the league, five this season and five from the end of the last campaign we have won seven, drawn two, lost 1, keeping seven clean sheets and only conceding three goals along the way – the facts don’t lie”.
There is little wonder as to why the Centre-half is frustrated -having sat it out on the bench for the last few games.
The 27 year old said: “I don’t feel I’ve been given a fair crack of the whip, but the manager knows that I am ready when he needs me. I have not let anybody down this season, no disrespect to the four young loan defenders we have had here this season but they have less than 10 league games experience between them, I definitely feel my experience and presence on the pitch can benefit the team right now”.
“The fans have been great with me this season and I really appreciate that. It hurts when I’m not playing and we lose because I genuinely care about the club. Hopefully we can get back to winning ways soon and I can be a part of it again”.