Zesh Rehman may miss vital Gillingham games
19 April, 2017
Just two fixtures now remain in a torrid season for Gillingham FC, the current club of Zesh Rehman. As of the British holiday weekend (14-17 April), ahead of the South-East derby match with Charlton Athletic, the 'Gills' are level on points with fellow relegation strugglers Shrewsbury and Bury.
For many neutrals, Rehman's decision to move from a gentler playing capacity in the far east, to join a small struggling club in England's physically demanded third tier, is illogical. However, one must remember that Rehman, of Pakistani origin – and designated by FIFA as a Pakistani – was the first British Asian to grace the Premier League.
Ultimately, home is where the heart is, and once a player has become so deeply integrated with the incomparable bustle of the English game, it is difficult for them to leave for gentler sporting climates.
Rehman's latest club in danger
Much to the chagrin of Gillingham fans and football-following British Pakistanis alike, Rehman will be struggling for fitness ahead of Gillingham's final two fixtures. Those fixtures are a home match with Fleetwood, and a tough trip to an already-safe Northampton side lodged in mid-table.
Gillingham recently arrested a losing run of four matches with a 1-1 draw at home to Millwall on 8 April, but given the form of teams around Gillingham in the League One table, it appears as though Gillingham will travel to Northampton still fighting for their lives. For their part, Gillingham have an excellent recent record against Northampton, not losing in any competitive games against the midland side since 2011, and this could bode well for Rehman – whether he does play or not.
Pictured: One of Rehman's old teammates at Pahang (yellow jersey)
'Muamer Salibasic 2014' Ezamariff via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)
With his unrivalled experience, Rehman's composure at the back will be a huge asset in determining whether or not Gillingham are to drop into the lowest tier of English football. Certainly, Rehman will need to experience a surge in match-fitness if he, along with his backline teammates, is to successfully repel an attack-minded Northampton side.
Northampton's goalscoring ability, even from deeper positions, is self-evident. The club's current top goalscorer is midfielder John-Joe O'Toole, a product of Watford's academy.
It will be at Northampton Town's Sixfields stadium that Rehman’s fate at Gillingham will be decided.
"Muamer Salibasic 2014" – Dwadfish via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)
No room for nostalgia
Just fourteen years ago, Gillingham FC achieved its highest ever finish. So long were the odds on a top-half finish for them in 2003, that sites offering risk-free bets, and first bet insurance for new punters, such as Latestbettingsites.com, would have attracted a lot of interest from customers both old and new. Eleventh in the second tier of English football was a remarkable achievement, but the players continued to punch above their collective weights, surviving again in 2004, albeit as the lowest ranked team not to be relegated.
Gillingham's luck finally ran out in 2005, and the club suffered a further relegation just three years later. As history shows, Rehman's current club have the capacity to bounce back, having done so in 2013 to embark on its current run in the third tier.
Also flying the flag...
Pakistan's other notable England-based player, Adil Nabi of Peterborough United FC – a club which shares the same league as Gillingham – is faced with a far better situation. Peterborough are currently eleventh in the league, and going neither up nor down, regardless of what happens in the team's final fixture at second-placed Bolton.