Randy Juan Muller, who turned 23 this week, flew to India on November 7 for a six-month contract. football for the ORPC Sports Club in Kerala, South India.
As the coronavirus pandemic spread, Muller booked a flight home to Ghana for March 30th. A week before the flight, he was riding a train to Mumbai.
“I heard about the possibility of a closure in India … so I came to Mumbai to stay in the dorm so I wouldn’t miss the flight,” Muller said. When he arrived in Mumbai on March 21, he had little money and was struggling to find a room.
“I didn’t know anyone (in Mumbai), so I saw a few cops and told them my story. They told me to go to the airport,” Muller said.
Three days later, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day closure across the country.
All international arrivals and departures are canceled.
With no money, Muller decided to sleep in the takeoff hall of Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport until international flights resumed. But the lock continued.
“People at the airport were very helpful. They gave me food and they helped me a lot,” Muller said. One security guard even replaced his phone after it was damaged.
Muller called the Ghanaian consulate in Mumbai, but says he was told they could do very little during the closure.
“I never worried because I knew I would come home one day,” he says. “I tried to stay strong and motivated … There are things in life that you can never change.”
Muller’s temptation the end has come in early June, after making an appeal on Twitter, at the suggestion of an insurance officer.
A local reporter who saw his tweets shared his appeal for help and tagged Aadity Thackeray, the state’s Minister of Tourism and Environment, who is also president of the Mumbai County Football Association. Thackeray is also the son of Chief State Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Within hours, Muller was taken from the airport to a hotel where he would stay until he could take off home.
Now his football contract has expired, but its hard for him to give up on returning to India.
“I left home to eat at home,” he says. “If I had another contract and I’d love to come back.”