The first Indian to play in the top-flight of European football is a man of few words – ‘hardworking, committed and passionate.’
Speaking at the official pre-match press conference, Indian national team captain Sunil Chhetri put things into perspective and stated: “Gurpreet is a much better player now than he was before.”
“He was my room-mate when he first came and I had no idea he would reach where he is now. He used to be cocky and couldn’t run on the ground. But look at him now – he is a completely different player”, Chhetri opined recollecting Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s baby steps in football.
“I need a player like him and I wish him all the best for the future,” he said.
Gurpreet, sitting two chairs nodded and muttered: “Thank you Paaji.”
After becoming the first Indian to make his debut for Stabæk Fotball in the Norwegian Tippeligaen, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has earned many admirers for his trade between the sticks.
Head Coach Stephen Constantine was also all praise for the former East Bengal custodian. “The sacrifices Gurpreet made are tremendous. To compete against European players in Europe and make a mark is a commendable feat,” he maintained.
“Gurpreet waited for more than two years to make his debut for Stabæk and that screams of commitment to the sport,” he added. “Apart from his skills, he is well grounded and does not show off and that is his biggest strength.”
“However he still has a lot of work to do and I am happy that I gave him his first international cap. If he continues to works hard, the sky is the limit,” Constantine felt.
When inquired about him replacing ‘Spiderman’ Subrata Paul between the Indian sticks in the starting XI, Gurpreet was all praise for “Subrata-bhai.”
“I have learnt a lot from Subrata-bhai and therefore it is a huge honour for me to fill his boots. At the same time, it is very important for me to perform every single time I play for India because I am trying to fill in the boots of a legend,” Gurpreet said pointing out Subrata Paul’s contribution to Indian football.
(Report & Photo courtesy AIFF Media)