Former Stoke City defender Simranjit Thandi has sealed an agreement with Cypriot side Doxa Katokopias after leaving AEK Larnaca in the summer.
The 24-year-old has signed a deal set to run until next summer with Doxa, who finished 11th in the Cypriot First Division last season. Thandi, who can play across the defence, is one of three new recruits they’ve secured in their battle against relegation. The club are currently bottom of the table, with just four points from 16 matches.
He began his career with Leicester City as a youth and, having been capped at England Under 17 level, was classed as one of the hottest prospects at the club in a 2016 Guardian article. He made a single appearance for the Foxes’ Under 21 side in the EFL Trophy before switching to Stoke City for the 2018/19 season.
Whilst with the Potters, he managed three appearances in the same competition alongside current Leicester defender Harry Souttar. At the end of the 2018/19 season, he was one of five released by Stoke.
His next move was Cyprus, where he linked up with AEK Larnaca. He made his debut just three weeks after signing, appearing in the 4-0 win over Levski Sofia in the Europa League. He spent four seasons with Larnaca, appearing 62 times and scoring on three occasions. He also had a loan spell with Karmiotissa, appearing 20 times last season.
Thandi is likely to play a key part for his new club, given their dire recent form. They went 17 matches without a win before beating Limassol on December 18th. Rather ironically, their last game before their two-week winter break saw them defeated by his former club, Larnaca, 2-1.
There are so many young players who threaten greatness at 17 and then disappear, and for Stoke and Leicester fans, Thandi is one of those. He’s a rare commodity, a British Asian footballer, who appeared to fall through the cracks.
He’s carved out a career for himself in Cyprus, appearing in European competition as well as a strong Larnaca side. One wonders if, with a bit of luck over the next season and a half, he might find his way back to the UK, even if it were to become a role model for a hugely underrepresented pool of talent.