Punjabi teenager Mannu makes historic Blues debut

Teenager Riya Mannu made history on Wednesday night as she became the first British South Asian ever to play league football for Birmingham City Women.

The 17-year-old came on for Charlie Devlin in the latter stages of Birmingham’s 4-0 Championship win against Reading at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

“It feels like there are no words to describe it,” Riya’s mother told Sky Sports News after the final whistle.

“We’re all so proud and we hope this can have a massive impact on South Asian girls in particular.

“We knew this day would come because Riya is really persistent and so determined, but to actually see her do it was just mind-blowing.

“Riya’s been working towards this moment for such a long time and Blues have been amazing since day one.

Dev Trehan Riya Sushma Wolves South Asian Heritage Month
Riya Mannu’s mum chats on stage with Sky Sports News’ Dev Trehan at a South Asian Heritage Month event hosted by Wolves at Molineux last year

“They have always supported her and her development throughout all of her seasons. I can’t thank them enough. They have been amazing.”

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Punjabi youngster Mannu made her first appearance on Birmingham City’s first-team bench in the goalless draw with Blackburn Rovers at St Andrew’s last weekend.

Carter: We have high hopes for Riya

Speaking to Blues TV, Birmingham City head coach and former Blues midfielder Darren Carter was full of praise for Mannu, describing the forward’s attitude as “refreshing”.

“Riya has been fantastic and has deserved her chance to come up and train with us,” Carter said.

“She has had a strong season with Liam [Parkes, U21s head coach] and the U21s. Riya has always been someone that we’ve kept an eye on and she’s got stronger and stronger.

“Her attitude for a young player is refreshing, she’s come into our environment and asks questions. She’s eager to learn and eager to get better.

Hanaah ward Trehan Rai Singh Savage
Coach Kiran Singh Savage and Derby County legends Hannah Ward and Kira Rai joined Sky Sports News’ Dev Trehan ahead of a game to lend support to Birmingham City starlet Riya Mannu who was 15 at the time

“She’s earned her chance and being with us a few weeks now, you can see her getting to our level and speed of play.

“We have high hopes for Riya.”

Mannu has been in scintillating form for the U21s, bagging 11 goals so far this term, including well-taken strikes against both Arsenal and Manchester United.

Morrison hails Mannu strike


But it was her goal against Leicester City earlier in the year that left a lasting impression on Sky Sports pundit and ex-Birmingham City striker Clinton Morrison.

“It was a great finish,” Morrison told Sky Sports News.

“She watched it on to her [left] foot, her weaker foot, and she did ever so well with the technique to guide it into the back of the net.

“That was natural and instinctive. It was a natural finish, a great finish – an unbelievable finish. I’d have probably celebrated a little bit more, because I never scored a spectacular goal like that!”

British South Asians in Football

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