Randy Juan Muller, who turned 23 this week, flew to India on November 7 for a six-month contract to play. football for the ORPC Sports Club in Kerala, South India.
As the coronavirus pandemic spread, Muller booked a flight to Ghana on March 30. One week before the flight, he took a train to Bombay.
“I heard about the possibility of locking in India … so I came to Bombay to stay in a dormitory so I wouldn’t miss my flight,” Muller said. When he arrived in Bombay on March 21, however, he had low cash and tried to find a room.
“I didn’t know anyone (in Bombay), so I saw some police officers and they told me my story. They told me to go to the airport,” Muller said.
Three days later, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day national blockade.
All international arrivals and departures have been canceled.
Muller has decided to sleep in the departure lounge of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Bombay until international flights resume. But the lock continued to expand.
“People at the airport were very helpful. They gave me food and they helped me a lot,” Muller said. A guard even replaced his phone after damage.
Muller called the Guinean Consulate in Bombay, but said he was told they could do little during the lock.
“I was never worried because I knew I would get home one day,” he says. “I tried to stay strong and motivated … There are things in life that you can never change.”
Muller’s test reached the end in early June, after appealing on Twitter, following a proposal by a security officer.
A local journalist who saw his tweets shared his appeal for help and pointed to Aaditya Thackeray, the state’s tourism and environment minister, who is also president of the Bombay Football Association. Thackeray is also the son of state leader Uddhav Thackeray.
Within hours, Muller was transferred from the airport to a hotel where he would stay until he could take a flight home.
His football contract has now expired, but his trial did not prevent him from returning to India.
“I left home to feed myself,” he says. “If I have another contract, I would love to return.”