Let’s take a minute to talk about some great players. There was Michael Jordan, who has gone down as the greatest ever to play the sport of basketball. But as a high school freshman, was deemed too short to play and didn’t even make it to his varsity team.
There is Fabio Grosso, a late bloomer who was an unknown until late in his career. He made his international debut for Italy 27 but went on to a play major role in Italy’s 2006 World Cup campaign, notching a goal in the semifinals to knockout hosts Germany and then scoring the decisive penalty in the final. Another story that’s very familiar is that of Jamie Vardy.
Having to play with an electronic tag for six months because he was convicted of assault, the tireless striker did not turn pro until the age of 25 when Leicester picked him up. He has rewarded the Foxes nicely since then.
Promoting them to England’s top flight, keeping them there and setting a record for goals scored in most consecutive games in the Premier League with 11 and winning the Player of the Year on course to win a miraculous Premier League title for the minnows.
Why am I telling you all this?
All of these examples have a pattern. These are players that had to overcome rejection and great adversity on their course to making history. These are the Cinderella stories of the sports world.
Nepal could have a similar fairytale story in the making when Karna Limbu takes the field on 28th March against the Philippines. A goal machine on the domestic front for Jhapa XI, Karna has managed to stay at the top spot of the goal scoring charts while leading Machindra and then Jhapa to respectable finishes in the recent national leagues. Despite all of his efforts he was continuously snubbed leading to a moment where even stopped considering going to selection camps.
Karna has now once again got the chance to don the national team stripes and prove his worth on the International stage, the first time since his debut in 2-0 loss to Yemen in 2014. All eyes will be on him, and the pressure to perform huge considering he is replacing the likes of Anil Gurung, an 11 year veteran and Nawayug Shrestha, the man who has spearheaded Nepal’s attack while winning a hat-trick of trophies.
With a crucial game coming up and the national team chasing a spot in the 2019 Asian Cup, it remains to be seen if Karna can be Nepal’s Cinderella story.
Hopefully Karna can prove his doubters wrong and finally make good on his chance to lead the line for his country, an opportunity he’s yearned for years and worked hard all his life to achieve.