Adil Nabi: Ex-West Brom midfielder on playing with Roberto Carlos, Greece & inspiring youngsters

Adil Nabi and Georgios Samaras
Former West Brom striker Georgios Samaras is now vice president of OFI Crete

From England to Greece, via India and Scotland - and playing alongside Roberto Carlos.

It's not a well-trodden route for a footballer, if trodden at all, but one that Birmingham-born former England youth international Adil Nabi has taken in a bid to reach the top.

The 24-year-old midfielder, who wants to "pave the way" for more British Asian footballers, has gone almost 2,000 miles away from home by joining OFI Crete in the Greek Super League, after starting his career in the youth ranks at West Brom.

"The move to Greece has been crazy," Nabi tells BBC Sport. "People are spotting me in the streets and that was only after one game, it is a nice feeling.

"That is what I want and hopefully that carries on."

Adil and Samir Nabi
Adil played with brother Samir for West Brom in the U21 Premier League

'Why have you put him into football?'

Nabi is the eldest of three siblings and his two brothers are professional footballers too. Samir is currently at Torquay, while Rahis was most recently in Burnley's development squad.

Being of Pakistani descent, Nabi is now hoping to be a trailblazer for British Asians looking to make the breakthrough and explains his own experiences of making the grade.

"A lot of people have come up to my parents and said they have seen what they have done for me and my brothers and given them a gateway to do that with their children," he said.

"When my dad did it people were asking, 'why have you put him into football?' but he stuck to his guns and it has paid off for our family. Football is huge so I don't think many Asian parents have that problem.

"The likes of Cyrille Regis and Laurie Cunningham paved the way for other black footballers and hopefully I can do that for British Asian players."

Zesh Rehman was the first British Asian to play in the Premier League, making his debut for Fulham in 2003 and going on to captain Pakistan at international level.

Since then, Michael Chopra - who has an Indian father - and Neil Taylor - with an Indian mother - have appeared in the top flight and Hamza Choudhury, whose parents are Bangladeshi, is currently playing for Leicester.

Nabi, who never made a senior appearance for West Brom, featured for Peterborough and Dundee before moving to Greece, where he says he has had a positive experience.

"Being a Muslim, everyone shows their understanding towards me and every club I have been at have catered for Halal food," he said.

"Crete have sorted all that out too and those little things make my life so much easier."

Playing alongside Carlos - 'the experience was unbelievable'

OFI Crete were most recently in the headlines when Gennaro Gattuso was manager between 2014 and 2015 and the ex-Italy international had an infamous rant during a news conference.

Though not a household name like Gattuso, Nabi is drawing attention after an impressive debut saw him score two free-kicks in a 3-0 victory over Panetolikos.

The performance earned him the league's most valuable player award for gameweek 17 and Nova Sport - the satellite sports TV channel in Greece - gave him the best goal award in the European leagues, beating the likes of Kylian Mbappe and others from Serie A and La Liga.

Adil Nabi
Nabi played alongside John Arne Riise, Brazil legend Roberto Carlos and and Florent Malouda in Delhi

Starting out, Nabi joined the West Brom academy as an eight-year-old and progressed into the first-team squad, but did not manage to make a senior appearance.

With games hard to come by, he became the first top-flight player to move on loan to the Indian Super League where he joined the Delhi Dynamos, playing alongside Champions League winners Roberto Carlos, John Arne Riise and Florent Malouda.

"The experience in India was unbelievable, I will never forget that," says Nabi. "I was 21 years old and going into one of the biggest countries in the world. I cannot speak highly enough about it.

"Now I have big targets and ambitions and I know I can fulfil goals in the future. People still speak about not playing for West Brom but hopefully one day I can get a move back to England and get that opportunity on merit. My time in Greece can help me do that."

Nabi hails from the same city as England cricketer Moeen Ali and hopes to see more British Asian parents allowing their children to take up football and sport as a career path.

"My parents were happy for me to take the footballing route in life and they allowed that at a time when maybe others weren't," he says.

"Now you see more and more parents pushing their kids towards sports such as boxing, cricket and tennis. You see kids more in afterschool clubs and I have helped that too.

"The governing bodies can help with that and there are so many things going on behind the scenes where people want to try and push it.

"Hopefully now people will see how myself and Choudhury do and it will help push the parents to start their kids in football at seven, eight or nine years old."

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