Asian players often face unique barriers, says Anwar Uddin

of Dagenham of Exeter during the Coca-Cola Football League Two match between Dagenham Redbridge and Exeter at Victoria Road Stadium on January 20, 2009 in Dagenham, England.
Image: Anwar Uddin was the first Asian to skipper a league side when he became club-captain at Dagenham and Redbridge

Asian players can face doubts about their ability before they have kicked a ball, according to ex-player Anwar Uddin.

Uddin came through the ranks at West Ham and is fondly remembered by Hammers fans for skippering the club's U18 side during their famous FA Youth Cup-winning campaign in 1999.

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The 37-year-old enjoyed a fruitful career in the game, turning out for Bristol Rovers, Dagenham & Redbridge and Barnet before eventually retiring as a player after a spell at Eastbourne Borough.

East Londoner Uddin is British-Bangladeshi and throughout his career was often the only player of Asian descent in the dressing room.

"It can be a lonely journey," Uddin told Sky Sports News.

Anwar Uddin in action for Barnet
Image: Uddin became the first British Asian to hold a senior coaching role at a league club when he became Barnet assistant boss in 2011

"Lonely, because you are going to be in a situation where you are going to walk into a changing room and you are the only brown face, no-one knows you - and before you've even kicked a ball people are asking questions of you: 'He's Asian, Can he play? Why is he here? Who is he?'"

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Winning over doubters is not uncommon for footballers, but Uddin - who is now assistant boss at National League side Aldershot - says Asian players often need to overcome self-doubt as well.

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"There is a barrier that Asian kids face that others don't," Uddin added.

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"And [because you don't see many players who look like you] it's almost as if you feel like you don't belong.

"It's almost as if 'should I be here? Am I cheating? Am I supposed to be here'?"

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"That's a hidden sort of barrier that Asian kids face, that they shouldn't have to face, because let's face it, it's hard enough [to make it] as it is."

Although Asian players can face a unique range of challenges, Uddin believes they have the tools to succeed provided they have the right support.

"Things are now in place for the future," he said.

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Anwar Uddin scores a Vincent Kompany-esque stunner for Rainbow Rovers in a charity match against a team of Premier League legends at Whitehawk FC to raise money for the Brighton Rainbow fund

"People are now talking about Asians in football and there are now academies and facilities to encourage Asians in football. The opportunities are now in place, so the challenge is for the next crop of Asian players to come through in what is an unforgiving industry.

"A lot of it is now down to the individuals, and of course their parents."

The latest instalment of our 'Tackling Racism' series on Sky Sports News can be seen on Monday September 2, hosted by Dharmesh Sheth and focusing on British Asians in football.

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