Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, also known as the “Wall of India”, is the goalkeeper in the Indian football team. He represented the nation in the FIFA U-17 WorldCup. Born in Moirang Phiwangbam Leikai in Manipur, he is the son of Moirangthem Romit and Moirangthem Ongbi Usha. Like many in the region, footbal for Dheeraj started with a plain replica football, which he made with discarded socks and paper. As a student of Churachandpur Navodaya, he always looked at his seniors and envied them for their ability to play football in the school field as he was unable to join them as a junior.
With utmost zeal, he started practicing the beautiful game in the empty fields and green valleys of Manipur whenever he could. His spirit and enthusiasm caught the attention of the coach of AMOFA—Moirang,Oja Surendro, who gave him his first opportunity by letting him play in the L. Borchand Memorial Football Tournament in 2011. At that time, he was just a student of the eighth standard. This led him to the selection in the state football team, and since then,he became unstoppable. At the age of eleven, Dheeraj got selected in the AIFF Academy located at Kalyani, West Bengal. Ever since, there was no turning back for Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem. In 2012, he was not included in the Indian squad for the U-14 Football Tournament held in Nepal and Japan. It was heartbreaking for young Dheeraj. However, the encouragement he got from his family and friends made him do better, and he regained a place in the Indian team. With him handling the gloves, Team India went onto win the 2013 U-16 SAFF Tournament held in Kathmandu.
Till date, Dheeraj has played more than fifty international tournaments held in Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America. He was also among the best fifty football players from Asian countries who were selected to be trained under the best coaches of Barcelona, Manchester United and Inter Milan. Along with Dheeraj, 10 out of the 21-men squad played for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Tournament hail from the north-eastern region of India. Boris Singh Thangjam, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Kumanthem Nonthoiganba Meetei, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Jeakson Singh Thaunaojam, Mohammad Shahjahan and Nongdamba Naorem hail from Manipur, while Komal Thatal hails from Sikkim and Lalengmawia is from Mizoram. Despite the presence of so many hidden talents, it is sad that our country is still unknown to myriad facts and is ignorant about the region.