On the surface he comes across as just a suave 2K young guy standing distinctly in the crowd. Not that he is the tallest, but his achievements and promise are quite.
Barely 19, the talented Sarpreet Singh is the ‘Dipak Patel of New Zealand Football,’ – the first footballer of Indian origin to have played for the All Whites – the New Zealand national football team.
Sarpreet smiles. “Yeah, I am the first one,” he informs. “There have been others players in other sports, but in football, yeah, I am proud to have represented my country,” he lifts his face up.
“Both my parents and my grandparents were born in India. But my brother, sister and myself were born in New Zealand. I have been to our ancestral village once in Punjab. That time I was just 11,” he says.
Can the Punjab da puttar speak Punjabi?
“I speak quite fluently with my grandparents. Back home, Mamma cooks some lovely curries. But I stay in Wellington where I play for Wellington Phoenix while my family is in Auckland,” Sarpreet, who scored against Kenya in the ongoing Hero Intercontinental Cup, states.
“This time around my visit to India has been quite a unique experience. It’s quite an eye-opener. I am excited and look forward to scoring against India,” he smiles again.
Sarpreet leans back and enquires about the Indian team. “Your captain is a fantastic player. Indian football is improving at a fast pace,” he quips.
“Now that you tell me that the tall goalkeeper (Gurpreet Singh Sandhu) and the tough bearded central defender (Sandesh Jhingan) are from Punjab, I look forward to meeting them. That will put by Punjabi to test,” he grins. On being informed about the other two Singhs – Amrinder and Balwant, he adds: “That will be quite a meeting.”
Won’t your family be a divided lot when you play against India?
Sarpreet laughs. “Will they? I don’t know. I need to call up mom and ask her. I’m sure she will root for her son.”
Sarpreet’s love-affair with football started back at the age of 5. Since then he has been part of the U-17s and the U-20s. “Right now I am focussing short term aiming to improve every single day. I am contracted with my club for two years. The dream is to play in the big leagues in Europe but to get there I need to keep my head down, work hard.”