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Play The Game Not Ocassion: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

By: Migom Panging and Sitanshu Saran

India’s last line of defence Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who is the first Indian to qualify for the Europa Cup as well as the first Indian to play a professional senior game in a top division European club. has proved time and again why he is one of the best Indian goalkeeper available right now.

Gurpreet was interviewed by goalbold team and he shared his thoughts on various questions from goalbold. When asked, this 24 year old custodian said

‘I didn’t choose football,football chose me !!’

Such is the immense love of the Punjabi towards this beautiful game. One of the most promising young talents of India, may we present to you Mr. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu!

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  • Gurpreet, on your pursuit to represent the Indian Football Team, what was the contribution of people around you?

A huge contribution, they made me believe that I can make it and motivated me all the time.

  • Can you relate to us about your experiences in St. Stephen’s Academy?

The experiences at St. Stephens were hard, I didn’t use to play games and I wasn’t a very good or talented player back then but the only good thing I did there was I worked day in day out no matter if I play or not I went to training every single day and eventually I got better with training and I m thankful to st Stephen’s for providing that.

  • How did you feel when you joined East Bengal FC as a youth player?

I think people have a wrong perception of my east Bengal move I didn’t join their youth system I went there to join the Men! , it was an amazing feeling as I waiting for a such a day to come when I start as a pro and sharing the dressing room with the legends was the icing on the cake the likes of Baichung Bhutia, Rennedy Singh, Mehrajudin Wadoo, Deepak Mondal and all.

  • Whom did you feel as your most wise mentor?

My close friends, coaches, my family and my manager Joe.

  • Who was or is your best friend between teammates?
    Manandeep Singh
  • How do you keep your head cool under big games?

I remember a line told to me by my former coach Trevor Morgan that Play the Game, not the Occasion. So I try to picture what I will do in the game the night before it helps me get into the zone when the time comes.

  • What was your reaction when you got your first youth national team call-up?

It was a big motivation for me to keep going and keep on believing in what I was doing.

  •  You must have felt very happy when you were with the likes of Mohammed Salim, Baichung Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri and Subrata Pal for representing a European club. How are your days in Stabæk?

To be named alongside them is a privilege but to do go a step further from them was nothing that I ever imagined of. The days are hard full of struggle, each day is a test of my mentality. But the good thing is that it is turning me into a better person and a better player.

  • Who do you consider as your idol in football?

Edwin Van Der Sar, even though I haven’t met him but by just watching him play it made me imagine that when or If I will play in Europe.

  • your favourite team?

Stabaek!

  • How did you feel when you were nominated for FPAI Fans Player Of The Year?

It gave me a sense of relief frankly, showing that people in India care and believe in my journey and see me worthy of such an honour.

Are you interested in joining any ISL Club?

Not Yet.

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  • Why did you choose Stabæk over Everton?

Because Stabaek was my first option.

  • As per the today’s development progress is concerned, Where do you see Indian football team around 2022?

I hope and think we are someone like an Oman football wise by that time, qualifying for Asia cup regularly.

  • You will be representing your club in Europa League, How does it feels personally and as an Indian what does it matter?

As an Indian I don’t even I imagined that something like this would happen, even I didn’t think that such an opportunity will come so soon in my journey in Europe.

  •  We can clearly see the difference in Football in Indian and Football in Europe or Norway, tell us that major thing you see as a difference.

It develops you mentally makes you stronger.

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  • Conditions and factors are different in India and Norway, how you manage to get mingle in that?

It’s something personally I think I have to master if I keep on playing in Europe and get to play in the national team, it’s difficult for sure since most of the times I join the team later than the others so I have to be more focused than the others to deliver my 100 percent.

  • Do you see ISL working?

As a marketing point of view and promoting Indian football in the world and football in India it has done a pretty amazing job, but if you think that it has helped produced infrastructure or a proper grass root system or develop or give a chance to young talent I think it will be too early to judge that. It just has been 2 years.

  • Last but not least, what is your message to young? aspiring footballers in India?

I think the young’s need to be strong mentally, they need to raise their voice when they see they are not treated well by the club secondly they need to be advised good and make better choices, go where you think you will get better and get to play instead of running after money.

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