Mohammed Salim was an Indian professional footballer who is known for being the first Indian player to play for a European club, Celtic FC. He was born in 1904 in Calcutta, in the Bengal Presidency of British India. He died on 5th November 1980 in his hometown. He played as winger on the right side of the field. Probably one of the greatest players in the history of Indian football, he remains an inconspicuous figure because of a discriminatory attitude towards traditional Muslims in Indian football at that time. He was awarded the Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy State Award in 1976, which remains the only recognition that he was honored upon.
He never received formal academic training in football, he was succeeded with the help of his immense talent. A chemist and pharmacist by trade, he was drawn to football by Mohun Bagan’s success in IFA Shield in 1911. He started out with the Chittaranjan Club of Calcutta in 1926. Since India was under the rule of the British, there was no formal Indian team as the AIFF was not formed until 1937. Instead there was an All India XI team that was under the jurisdiction of IFA. He made his debut for the All India XI team in 1936 against the Chinese Olympic side in an exhibition match, which was the first international game to be played in India. The Indian team lost the match but Salim and the other forwards were praised by the Chinese officials.
He first tasted success with Mohammedan Sporting Club as he guided them to five league titles in succession from 1934-38. However, he gained international reputation when his cousin, Hasheem who lived in England took him to Glasgow. Hasheem spoke to the Celtic manager Willie Maley The Celtic manager was amused at the thought of a bare-footed amateur from India competing against Scottish professional players, however he agreed to take him on trial. Salim managed to astonish them with his impressive skill, and the Celtic officials decided to play him in the two upcoming friendly matches. He made his debut against Hamilton Accies and helped Celtic win 5-1. He then played against Galston, guiding Celtic to a 7-1 win. The next day, Salim was all over Scottish newspapers with positive appraisals. However, the fairy tale remained as Salim fell homesick and returned to India, despite the pleas of Celtic who were willing to play a charity match on his behalf.
Salim played for Chittaranjan Football Club, Sporting Union, East Bengal, Aryans Club alongside Celtic and Mohammedan.
Calcutta Football League : 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938
IFA Shield : 1936
Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy State Award: 1976