Ahmed with Kerala Blasters
|Full name||Ishfaq Ahmed|
|Date of birth||17 March 1983|
|Place of birth||Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India|
|Height||1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|2013–2014||→ Mohammedan (loan)||14||(0)|
|2015||→ Pune (loan)||11||(1)|
|2016||→ Mumbai (loan)||5||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 15 October 2016.
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 1 August 2015
Ishfaq Ahmed (born 17 March 1983) is an Indian professional footballer who plays as a winger for the Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League. He also serves as an assistant coach with the Kerala Blasters. Ahmed is one of two professional footballers, along with Mehrajuddin Wadoo, to come from Jammu and Kashmir. He has played for many clubs in India's I-League, including Dempo, Mohun Bagan, Salgaocar, East Bengal, Mohammedan, Pune, and Mumbai. He has also won the league title while also winning domestic cups such as the Federation Cup and Durand Cup.
Born in the Barbar Shah locality in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, Ahmed started his sports career as a cricket player. Despite more opportunities to play cricket, Ahmed admitted that his first sporting love was football and he started to play the game at Biscoe School while also playing for the local side, YMCA. At the age of seventeen, Ahmed lead YMCA to the state league title, becoming the state top scorer in the process while playing as a striker. He credits his first football coach, Satpal Singh, for getting him to become a professional footballer: "Satpal Singh not only brushed up my skills but also helped me turn into a professional. My teachers at Biscoe and Gandhi College also supported me a lot." After playing for YMCA, Ahmed started to play for the Jammu and Kashmir Bank football team. After good performances with the side, Ahmed was selected to join the Jammu and Kashmir under-21 side for the Dutta Ray Trophy as captain.
Due to his performance during the Dutta Ray Trophy, Ahmed was awarded the best player of the tournament award. After the tournament, Ahmed signed with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). During his only season at HAL, Ahmed scored seven goals in the National Football League, including strikes against major sides such as East Bengal, Dempo, and Churchill Brothers.
After one season with HAL, Ahmed signed with Dempo. He stayed with the club for four seasons, winning the National Football League title twice, a Federation Cup, and a Durand Cup. He began his career at Dempo as a striker but after head coach Armando Colaco signed Beto to play as striker, Ahmed was put onto the bench. After being knocked-out of the Federation Cup by Ahmed's old side HAL Colaco changed his tactics and put Beto in the midfield while pairing Ahmed with Nigerian player, Ranti Martins.
After the 2006–07 season, Ahmed was offered a contract extension with Dempo but decided to think it over after a lack of playing time. Mohun Bagan secretary, Debasish Dutta, contacted Ahmed and offered him a contract with the Kolkata side. Ahmed was at first pensive about signing for Mohun Bagan since Kolkata clubs were known to pay their players late and overall bad management but after some consideration, Ahmed signed a one-year deal with Mohun Bagan. His first season at Mohun Bagan saw Ahmed play 37 matches and he played mainly as a left winger. He helped the side win the Federation Cup in 2008 and finished as runners up during the 2008–09 I-League season. He was also named as the best player during the Santosh Trophy in 2008.
After four years with Mohun Bagan, Ahmed moved back to Goa to sign with I-League side Salgaocar. He helped the side win the Federation Cup in 2011 before moving to Mohun Bagan's Kolkata rivals, East Bengal. He was a regular fixture in the squad for East Bengal during the 2012–13 I-League season as East Bengal finished third.
After the season ended, Ahmed signed a contract with IMG–Reliance to be part of the Indian Super League. Despite signing the contract, Ahmed was left without an I-League side as the clubs agreed not to sign any players who joined the ISL, until Mohammedan, another Kolkata club, signed Ahmed on 30 October 2013.
In July 2014, Ahmed was selected by the Kerala Blasters during the Indian player draft for the Indian Super League. He made his debut for the side on 30 October 2014 against Pune City. He came on as a 25th minute substitute for Ramandeep Singh as the Blasters won 2–1. Ahmed then went on to score the first goal for Kerala Blasters in leg 1 of the 2014 Indian Super League finals match-up against Chennaiyin. His 27th minute strike was the first of a 3–0 rout of the Chennai side.
After the season ended, Ahmed joined Pune for the I-League campaign on loan before rejoining Kerala Blasters for 2015. For the 2015 season, Ahmed became a player-assistant coach for the Kerala Blasters. After the Indian Super League season, on 26 February 2016, it was announced that Ahmed would join another I-League side on loan, Mumbai for the 2015–16 season.
After good performances for Dempo, Ahmed was called up to the India U23 side by head coach, Stephen Constantine, for Olympic qualification. Ahmed scored on his debut for the side against Turkmenistan U23 as India won 1–0.
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