By Ashoke Raj
Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], May 15 (ANI): A Ghanaian professional footballer who plays for a Kerala-based club has been stuck for the last 54 days at Mumbai International Airport due to lockdown and unavailability of flights back home.
Juan Muller, 23, has been stuck at the departure area of Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA). He spends his time at the airport's fancy artificial gardens and somehow buys food from stalls and passes his time with the airport staff.
Muller said that airport staff is very helpful.
"I was going back home by Kenya Airways but unfortunately my flight got cancelled due to lockdown and I have been here for 54 days. Right now, all I can think of is that I just want to go home. I buy food here and stay at the airport departure and take help from the people of Krystal (airport service provider company) employees. They are really very helpful," Muller told ANI.
Muller said he is a big fan of the famous Brazilian footballer Neymar and has him as phone Display Picture (DP). "He is a superstar. I haven't met him. I love him and want to be a famous player like him," Muller told ANI.
He also expressed gratitude towards the airport security officer, who gave him his mobile to call his relatives and family members because his smartphone was damaged.
An airport officer, who did not wish to be named, said he provided help to Muller with hotels closed and no accommodation available.
"He is in a bad condition due to shortage of money and clothes. I contacted the airlines and some other employees at the airport for his accommodation. Unfortunately, hotels are closed and other accommodation is also shut near the airport due to lockdown. I have given a blanket and also arranged food," he said.
Muller came to India by Egypt Air on E-1 type Indian visa on November 17, 2017. He played football for the Olympic Remembering Private Club (ORPC) at Kechery in Thrissur in Kerala. He decided to go back to Ghana due to the coronavirus outbreak as his visa also was about to expire in April. He had later extended his visa online till May 17.
Muller started the journey from Kerala to Mumbai by train on March 20 and reached Mumbai airport on March 21 to catch a flight for Ghana by Kenya Airways. But flight operation was suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The government later announced complete restrictions on domestic and international commercial flight movement till May 17.
"Juan Muller is a football player in ORPC sports club and he left the sports club for his home Ghana," said Kabeer, President of ORPC sports club.
When contacted, Ghana's High Commission in Delhi told ANI that they were in touch with authorities regarding Muller.
The High Commission said they were planning for a chartered flight for Mumbai and Delhi and were waiting for the final approval.
"Around 500 Ghanaian nationals are living in India. They are mostly students. About 60 Ghanaian nationals have shown their willingness to go back to their home as of now," it said.
Earlier on May 12, a German national who was stranded at the transit area of Delhi airport for the last 55 days due to the lockdown, left for Amsterdam. (ANI)