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South Asians in Football: John Still hails Anwar Uddin who is shortlisted for award after headlining Brentford and Fulham event

Former Dagenham and Redbridge boss John Still opens up about why he signed trailblazer Anwar Uddin and why he made the former defender his captain; Uddin and Singh Gill vie for Asian Achievers award; Premier League clubs Brentford and Fulham unite for British South Asians in Football

Anwar Uddin MBE: British South Asians in football legend recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours list

West Ham academy graduate Anwar Uddin “led by example”, says the man who signed him for both Bristol Rovers and Dagenham and Redbridge.

Uddin made his English professional debut at Bristol Rovers where he had signed from Sheffield Wednesday, following a recommendation from then-assistant manager John Still.

Uddin is a former FA Youth Cup winner with West Ham and is the first British-Bangladeshi league player in English football history.

He spent two seasons at Rovers before being snapped up by Still, who had taken the manager's job at Dagenham Redbridge. Still would go on to make Uddin the captain of his Daggers side.

"When I went to Dagenham, he was the first player I wanted to sign. He was a leader," Still told Sky Sports News.

"He was someone who would get up them and would be like, 'get behind me, come on we're all together'. He had that in him. You can't teach that, it's uncoachable.

"He was loud [in the dressing room], and sometimes you'd go in there and he would have already sorted it out [if there was a problem]. He'd already had words!

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"The players respected him, because of how hard he worked, how hard he trained and how much he gave the game. He wasn't just one of those that would dig people out and not himself. He was a man, a proper man who led by example.

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How Sky Sports News broke the story that Anwar Uddin was becoming the first British South Asian former footballer in the history of the FA Council

"He was hands-on and just had an aura about him. Not only was he an ideal captain, he was also an ideal person to have in the dressing room."

Still: Uddin could become Mayor of London!

Former Fans for Diversity campaign chief Uddin is the current England C assistant manager, and was last year awarded an MBE for services to football in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Still insists former Dagenham and Redbridge captain Uddin has a bright future ahead of him, in and out of football.

"I think the future is anything that he wants to put his hand at," added Still, who features in 'The Fall and Rise of Luton Town'.

"If he wants to get into management and coaching in actual day-to-day football, I think he'll find his way in it.

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The first British-Bangladeshi to play professionally, Anwar Uddin, talks South Asian representation in football with midfielder Hamza Choudhury. Nujum Sports ambassador Choudhury is the only British-Bangladeshi ever to play in the Premier League

"If he wants to go in and become a politician, I think he will find that. If he wants to become Mayor of London, I think he'll find a way of doing that!"

Trailblazers vie for Asian Achievers Award

Uddin, meanwhile, has just been shortlisted for Sports Personality of the Year at the Asian Achievers Awards.

Football will also be represented at next month's awards by match official Bhupinder Singh Gill, who Sky Sports News exclusively revealed was going to make history earlier this year by becoming the first Sikh-Punjabi assistant referee ever to preside over a Premier League game.

Bhupinder's elder brother Sunny is the country's highest-ranked South Asian heritage referee. The pair's father, Jarnail Singh, is league football's first turbaned Sikh referee, with Jarnail presiding over more than 150 EFL games between 2004 and 2010.

Women's cricketer and former Middlesex captain Naomi Dattani is also on the list. Dattani, who made her Middlesex debut aged 14, lined up alongside West Indies star Deandra Dottin for Thunder in The Hundred. The pair scored 100 runs between them in an epic victory against Northern Diamonds last month, with all-rounder Dattani also chipping in with four wickets.

Hamza Sheeraz in action wtih Duane Green at the Copper Box Arena, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 16, 2017. See PA story BOXING London. Photo credit should read: Scott Heavey/PA Wire
Image: Slough knockout artist Hamzah Sheeraz in action at London's Copper Box Arena

Middleweight boxer Hamzah Sheeraz extended his perfect record to 18-0 after making light work of Dmytro Mytrofanov on the Oleksandr Usk and Daniel Dubois undercard last weekend. The Slough fighter, who could be in line for a crack at Britsh champion Denzel Bentley next, completes the nominations for the Sports Personality of the Year accolade.

Uddin headlines Brentford and Fulham joint celebration

Uddin was a guest speaker at the Gtech Community Stadium earlier this month as Brentford and Fulham joined hands for a first-of-its-kind South Asian Heritage Month joint celebration event between two Premier League clubs.

Uddin was joined by Brentford non-executive director Preeti Shetty, Sky Sports News' Dev Trehan and Spurs REACH fans' group co-founder Sash Patel as they spoke about their journeys and work in the game at the event called Stories To Tell: Celebrating South Asian changemakers in English football.

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Preeti Shetty thinks British South Asian stereotypes in football are being broken, as she reflects on her experience working in the game

Brentford business communications manager Nikita Rathod and Javan Odegah from Leaders in Sport also hosted panel discussions with former Bees player Nevin Saroya, PFA executive Riz Rehman and Brenford operations director Ameesh Manak, before an in-depth spotlight chat with community stalwarts Nity Raj and FARE Network chief executive Piara Powar.

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Brentford director Nity Raj says the game has plenty of work to do to normalise British South Asians in football

Fulham collaborated with the Fans for Diversity campaign, Soccer Social LDN, Grassroots Football UK and the Sky Sports and Sporting Equals partnership last year for their first-ever South Asian Heritage Month event.

The joint event, aimed primarily at staff from both clubs, forms part of the legacy of last year's event and is viewed by Fulham as another stepping stone towards a more comprehensive plan to support and improve South Asian representation.

Fulham head of EDI Jamie Dapaah told Sky Sports News: "South Asian Heritage Month is of significant importance as it provides an opportunity to recognise, celebrate, and raise awareness about the diverse cultures, histories, and contributions of people with South Asian heritage on and off the field.

"Fulham Football Club is proud to collaborate with Brentford for this event and in this space. This highlights the importance of unity."

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Kaammini Chanrai, Equity and Inclusion Director at Brentford, added: "Growing up as a South Asian person, I couldn't see myself represented in football. Many years later, things finally feel like they're changing - there is better representation across our staff, in our boardrooms and in our fanbase. 

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"We wanted to do our part in expanding the conversation about South Asian representation in football, both on and off the pitch. This event is a brilliant place to start. Storytelling, celebration, collaboration and listening to lived experiences are how we move the dial and take action.

"We're proud to have done this event with Fulham Football Club. On the pitch, we're very much west London rivals, but off the pitch we're very much united in our desire to see greater inclusion and representation in football."

British South Asians in Football

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