He was in the city on Tuesday to grace the 170 annual sports meet of St. Joseph’s College, his alma mater.

Former Indian footballer Z.Mohammed Amjad feels that the country has a tremendous football talent pool that needs to be nurtured through proper planning.

“Producing players of international quality overnight is not possible. Long-term planning holds the key,” said Mr.Amjad speaking to The Hindu. He was in the city on Tuesday to grace the 170 annual sports meet of St. Joseph’s College, his alma mater.

Mr.Amjad, who hails from Villupuram, joined St. Joseph’s College after being attracted by its football culture.

“What I am today is because of the support from the college management,” he recalled.

After emerging as the top scorer in the University of Madras inter-divisional football tournament, which according to him was the turning point in his career, he was selected to represent the university in the all-India intervarsity tournament in 1981.

From then on, his career graph was on an upswing as he went on to represent Tamil Nadu in the Santosh Trophy national football championship and then donned the national colours in the Nehru Gold Cup held in Trivandrum in 1986. “That was indeed a dream come true,” said Mr.Amjad, who also played for Mohammedan Sporting for a couple of seasons.

A qualified coach with an AFC ‘B’ license, he coached Tamil Nadu in the Santosh Trophy national football championship and National Games in Hyderabad (2002).

Mr.Amjad, a branch manager with State Bank of India, plans to set up a football academy in the future to train rural youngsters and those from the economically weaker section. “In fact, my daughters are keen on the project.”

Later in the day, Mr.Amjad gave away prizes to the winners of the sports day events in the presence of Rev.John Britto, rector, Rev.S.Sebastian, secretary, Rev.F.Andrew, principal, and A.Prem Edwin, director of physical education.