Interview with Indian International Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

Interview with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu's exclusive interview
This is Debraj Banerjee from ABCDFootball and today we bring to you an exclusive interview with Indian International Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who is playing his trade on foreign soil of Norway in Stabaek which plays in the Norwegian top division. Blessed with a giant physique which is quite rare to see in Indian Football circuit, Gurpreet, is still just 24 and has already established himself as an integral part of the Indian National Team set up having secured the first choice goalkeeper slot. Also he has become the first Indian to captain an European side when he skippered Stabaek FC reserves. We spoke to Gurpreet on various important topics including his European venture, his time in Norway, growth of Indian football in general and much more. I hope you would find the conversation interesting.

ABCDFootball: We will start off with your inspiration, your role model in football.
Gurpreet: My Parents were very supportive. My dad is a huge sports enthusiast and he loves cricket. I am blessed to have got such supportive parents.

I remember watching Edwin Van Der Sar play for Manchester United and I could imagine myself in him with similar physique, height.

ABCDFootball: Tell us how does it feel to stay under the stick for the entire 90 minutes? You need to be on alert whenever called upon in action.
Gurpreet: Yes, as a goalkeeper you need to be on your toes whenever called upon action. There are games when you would not be called into action for once and there are games like against Iran when you will be at the centre of everything. Goalkeeper needs to be focused everytime and most certainly need to communicate well with the players especially the defenders.

ABCDFootball: Do you perform any special exercises to have your full concentration in the game?
Gurpreet: Yes, I try to picture the entire game infront of me even before the kick-off. That helps me leaps and bounds in focusing and keeping my concentration level to the peak.

ABCDFootball: Since you belong to Punjab, what is the general opinion in Punjab regarding football? Are the parents supporting of choosing Football as a profession for their child?
Gurpreet: From what I understand and have witnessed, in Punjab mostly parents are leaned towards cricket rather than football, especially when its more aout choosing it as a profession.

ABCDFootball: Your views on JCT and its disbanding.
Gurpreet: JCT was a huge chapter in Indian Football and more so for Punjab football. But unfortunately it did not get the proper backing which led to it being dissolved.

ABCDFootball: How is life in Norway and Stabaek, and how are your team mates? Your friends.
Gurpreet: The transition initially was really tough when I came here with the climate and the food. I had to learn cooking.

Now life is far smoother. Everyone in the team are really good and supportive.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu Interview
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has featured for Stabaek have impressed

ABCDFootball: What about your training schedule?
Gurpreet: During the pre-season we train twice a day, else its once in the morning.

ABCDFootball: Stabaek qualified for Europa League Qualifiers next season. Your thoughts?
Gurpreet: It was a very big step for us. Playing the Europa League is itself an achievement. At a personal level, I hope that I can give my best whenever the opportunity arrives.

ABCDFootball: What are your short-term and long term goals with Stabaek?
Gurpreet: I can feel that I am improving on a regular basis and I believe that I could very well be the regular first choice goalkeeper for the main team in the time to come.

ABCDFootball: From your point of view what are the basic difference in leagues in India and Norway – skill wise, attitude wise and professionalism wise.
Gurpreet: The difference is huge and this is in every aspect. The players here are far more professional, technically sound, physically fitter. The key difference could be understood in critical aspects like decision making.

The gulf in class is because of the training the players are given from childhood. I see young kids playing football from the age of 6-7. The clubs have dedicated junior age group teams (U-13 and so on).

Also, one more important point is the kick-off time. The climate plays a huge role in the overall quality of the gameplay.

ABCDFootball: When you look back at the World Cup Qualifiers, what positives and negatives you can chalk out?
Gurpreet: I believe its too early to jump into any conclusion from the performances in the World Cup Qualifiers. It’s a brand new team and things don’t happen overnight. There are a lot of changes coming into the side and things can only get better.

I myself am delighted to get to play for the National Team on a regular basis. The win against Guam in the Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru was the best game for us in the qualifiers.

I am lucky to have got a chance to work under both the coaches. I believe Bob Houghton got more time to spend with the players than our current coach is getting at the moment.

ABCDFootball: Did you get any offers to play in the Indian Super League(ISL)?
Gurpreet: I had few offers from few Indian Super League(ISL) sides but my goal is to keep playing abroad as I believe it gives me a better opportunity to grow.

ABCDFootball: What is your take on the affect of Indian Super League(ISL) on Indian Football?
Gurpreet: Indian Super League(ISL) has undoubtedly done some good work for Indian Football as it has been able to attract the mass towards the game.  They have done a tremendous job in advertising and packaging the game. But in terms of the gameplay, there is a lot more to offer.

ABCDFootball: Did you get a chance to witness our U-16 team in action, which will form the core of the U-17 FIFA World Cup 2017 India?
Gurpreet: Yes, I did. I watched a few games of the U-16 side in the AIFF Youth Cup 2016 and I have to say that I was pretty impressed. The boys were fantastic and all credits to them to play such an attractive brand of football.

I could see that most of the players were very sound technically and the credit shall go to their coaches for training them from an early stage. They seem to be very good with the ball on their feet and that’s rare to see at such a young age.

ABCDFootball would like to thank Gurpreet for taking his valuable time out for the wonderful conversation and we wish him best of luck for his career ahead.
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About Debraj Banerjee

Hi, I am Debraj Banerjee from Adra, West Bengal. A keen follower of Indian football and always an optimist that the game will get the recognition it truely deserves. What we ask from you is your support and one day the dream might turn true. Fingers crossed for Indian football. Cheers!

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