Hailing from Malappuram in Kerala, it’s not too surprising that Abdul Hakku Nediyodath had the ball at his feet from a very young age. He spent his youth career in the Sports Academy in Tirur before joining DSK Shivajians. He spent a few years in their academy before making his I-League debut for them versus East Bengal. In 2016 he plied his trade for the I league second division side Fateh Hyderabad FC.
A very impressive showing for the Hyderabad based club where he was played a part in the team conceding the least amount of goals, attracted the attention of the ISL club NorthEast United FC. A player who can play both as a centre-back as well as a right-back, he made 17 tackles and 12 clearances in the four matches he played for NEUFC.
The very next season the Kerala-born defender was roped in by Kerala Blasters where he managed just two appearances. But in the 2019-20 season, the tall defender played a handful of matches under coach Eelco Schattorie, in which he managed to leave his mark, amassing 12 tackles and 51 clearances.
With relatively lesser game time in ISL than he would have hoped for, we spoke to the 25-year-old on what he is looking forward to in the next season along with a few other things about football in Kerala and of course the famed fan club, Manjappada.
- You had started out as a striker, what or who made you switch to defence?
I joined my school football team when I was in the 9th standard. The physical trainer at the time had asked me to play as a striker, I even continued as a striker for the 7s tournaments during that time. However, when I joined the Academy in Tirur, it was Moideenkutty Sir, the then team coach who suggested, I have more capabilities as a defender and will eventually get more opportunities. Hence began my journey as a Central Defender.
- How much of role has Malappuram people and football fans played in your journey as a footballer?
Football is rooted in the very soil and culture of Malappuram. Everyone here is very passionate about football. The sport brings the community together and is the very reason why friendship is valued the most. I grew up watching and playing football with the folks around me. It was the support of my family, friends and fellow locals that encouraged me to become a footballer I am today.
- Have you played 7s football, and if yes, how would you compare it to playing in ISL?
Yes, I have participated in a number of 7s tournaments. The experience of playing at your home ground in front of an ever passionate and cheering crowd is inexplicable and unbelievable. In those days, up to 3 foreign players were allowed in an All India 7s tournament. Playing against them was always tough and challenging. I believe it was this prior experience that helped me adapt quickly to the standards of the ISL and face foreign players fearlessly.
- You haven’t had much game time with Kerala Blasters, how are you looking to increase that under Kibu Vicuna next season?
3 seasons have passed since my debut in the Indian Super League. I missed a lot of opportunities during my first two seasons because of an injury. However, I was able to play a few matches last season, wherein I have put in my best efforts for the team on the field. Although competing against foreign defenders is also a challenge in the ISL, I am confident I can perform well when provided with an opportunity. I’m eagerly looking forward to start training under our new coach, build my skills and contribute to the goals of the team.
- You have played alongside players like Sandesh Jhingan and Anas Edathodika, is there anything that you have learnt from them that has improved your game?
I was fortunate to play alongside both these stalwarts during a match. It was truly an inspirational experience. Throughout the game, I learnt a lot in focus, skill and tactics. Apart from the physical aspect of the game, they also impart mental strength and motivation, that builds your confidence as a player.
- What’s one thing people don’t know about you?
I am very reserved in nature, especially with people I am not familiar with. However, I’m equally jovial with my near and dear ones.
- How would you say your career has been so far, what is your next aim?
I believe I still have miles to go! There is definitely room for further development and I aim to work hard on my shortcomings. The club has a very defined vision and I hope to contribute to the team to the best of my abilities. Going forward, I aspire to be a part of the Indian National Team and take pride in representing my country.
- Kerala Blasters fans have been loud and proud backing the team from the stands, what do you feel about Kerala Blasters Fans especially Manjappada?
Any individual that supports the team and shares our passion for Yellow is a fan. The club strongly believes in Collectivism and considers all fans alike. They are our biggest strength and encouragement, on and off the field.