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Gurpreet Singh Sandhu: India's guardian angel between the goalposts

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, the custodian of India's football dreams, stands as a testament to the extraordinary.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu: Indias guardian angel between the goalposts

Indian custodian Gurpreet Singh 


Aswathy Santhosh

Published: 3 Feb 2024 8:46 AM GMT

In the world of football, where outfield players usually steal the spotlight, it's rare for an entire nation to idolise a goalkeeper.

Yet, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has not only emerged as an idol for many future custodians of Indian football but has also turned opposition nations into fervent prayer warriors, hoping for a misstep from the guardian angel defending India's goal.

While the question of who will be the next Sunil Chhetri often echoes in discussions about the Indian men's football team, there is one more intriguing question that often gets overlooked – who will replace the irreplaceable Gurpreet Singh Sandhu?

One vivid memory etched in our minds is Gurpreet's outstanding performance against Qatar.

As the Qatari commentator trembled, "Please open the door, Gurpreet." The mighty whites on the other side might have prayed for the same. The draw against India that night wounded egos, and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu held the sword firmly, emerging as an unbreakable wall that stood against the storm.

Since making his international debut in 2011, Gurpreet has been a regular presence for the Indian national team. His captaincy debut in 2016, in a friendly match against Puerto Rico, marked a significant moment in his career, showcasing not only his goalkeeping prowess but also his leadership qualities.

While many lauded his performance against Qatar, Gurpreet himself rated two other matches as his personal bests. The first is the 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Iran, where despite a 0-4 loss, Gurpreet recalled feeling greater pressure in Tehran than in Doha.

The second is a remarkable display against China in 2018, where, despite being the underdogs, India, under the guidance of coach Stephen Constantine, kept a clean sheet against a far superior Chinese side.

In 2019, Gurpreet received the prestigious Arjuna Award, solidifying his status as a football luminary in India. His achievements also extend beyond national borders – being the only Indian to play in the UEFA Europa League while representing Norwegian club Stabaek and captaining the team at the age of 24, a historic first for an Indian footballer.

For admirers and even rival fans in club football, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is a figure to be celebrated, much like captain Sunil Chhetri. You may have a love-hate relationship with GSS because of the topsy-turvey nature of Indian football, but one cannot deny the sense of security and belief that permeates the air when he guards the goalposts.

Today as he turns 32, we can proudly say Germany has Neuer; India has its own guardian angel – Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

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