Bradford City: Zesh Rehman interview

You could say it's been a contrasting few weeks for Bradford City defender Zesh Rehman.

The 27-year-old was feted at no less a place than Downing Street last week at a private reception held by the Prime Minister to celebrate the "immense contributions" British Asians like Rehman have made to the UK.

Fast forward to this Thursday and the former Pakistan skipper – who set up his own foundation encouraging Asians to participate – was stripped of the club captaincy at Valley Parade and placed on the transfer list for comments emanating from a live radio interview when he was questioned about being left out of the City line-up.

Shocked boss Peter Taylor was adamant Rehman, largely out of favour this term, had broken club rules, with his actions the "final straw" according to the City chief.

The future of the centre-half, overlooked for loan defenders Richard Eckersley and Rob Kiernan in recent weeks, at a club he has grown to love is now shrouded in massive uncertainty.

But Rehman, who joined the club initially on loan in the early part of 2009, has pledged to be professional, despite his disappointment about being on the sidelines at City.

Rehman said: "In the last 10 starts I have had in the league, five this season and five from the end of the last campaign, we have won seven, drawn two and lost one, keeping seven clean sheets and only conceding three goals along the way – the facts don't lie.

"I don't feel I've been given a fair crack of the whip, but the manager knows that I am ready when he needs me.

"I have not let anybody down this season. No disrespect to the four young loan defenders we have had here this season, but they have less than 10 league games experience between them, I definitely feel my experience and presence on the pitch can benefit the team right now.

"The fans have been great with me this season and I really appreciate that.

"It hurts when I'm not playing and we lose because I genuinely care about the club.

"Hopefully, we can get back to winning ways soon and I can be a part of it again."

He added: "I don't think I've let anyone down when called upon. But at the end of the day, it's the manager's decision and I respect that.

"We all want to be part of it all the time and that's the nature of the game. I'm pretty supportive of everyone, as I always have been when I've not been playing.

"It's just a case of getting on with it, that's all I can do.

"He's said he's willing to let me leave the club. He's brought his players in and he's got his reasons for that.

"I'll just get on with it and when I'm called upon, he's knows I'm ready to do a job and carry on where I left off, hopefully."

Just last week, Rehman's work with his football foundation in Bradford, which encourages schoolchildren to participate in football and promote a healthy lifestyle, was recognised at national level. It was just the latest accolade for the defender, who is a member of the Show Racism the Red Card Hall of Fame and a member of the PFA management committee.

Rehman, the first British-born Asian to play at all levels of the professional game, has a busy off-the-field portfolio, having also served as an ambassador for England's recent bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

On his Downing Street accolade, Rehman added: "I received an invite in the post and I was a little shocked at first, but it soon sunk in.

"I think it's a reflection on the club, the city and the whole region of Yorkshire.

"It's not just a personal thing and a lot of people deserve recognition on a big scale.

"The PM seemed very passionate about the game and seems very keen on building bridges throughout the country (through football), which is

the foundation.

"It was an extremely enjoyable day. In terms of the country, you don't meet many people much higher than the Prime Minister.

"So for him to acknowledge the work being done by people, not just myself, on and off the pitch is a great honour and a lot of people deserve credit. Being one of only two British Asians playing professional football, I was happy to speak to both David Cameron and Nick Clegg about my career and some of the racial hurdles and barriers that I have overcome to make the grade.

"They were both also very supportive of my Foundation I launched in May and believe it will achieve its aims of bridging the cultural gap in our society through the power of football."

Elland Road.

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