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'Goalkeepers are like wine, become better with age': PR Sreejesh

Indian hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh became only fourth goalkeeper in the world to make 300 appearances for national team.

Goalkeepers are like wine, become better with age: PR Sreejesh

FILE PHOTO: Ageing like old wine, PR Sreejesh played his 300th match for India. (Source: Hockey India)


Pritish Raj

Updated: 12 Aug 2023 6:25 AM GMT

Chennai: It was an electric atmosphere, and the crowd was on their feet when the announcer in the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium, Chennai, asked Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh to come forward to receive the honour for reaching the milestone of 300 matches.

In the post-match press conference, when a reporter asked him how it feels to play 300 matches, the goalkeeper quipped in his usual humour, "As they say, goalkeepers are like fine wine, they get better when they get old."

It was a momentous occasion for the 35-year-old from Kerala, who became only the ninth Indian player in history to achieve the milestone of playing 300 international matches.

When his name was announced before the match, the veteran custodian came forward, picked up his hockey stick, and bowed down to his teammates in a gesture before moving to receive the honour from Hockey India president and the most capped player in Indian history, Dilip Tirkey.

Talking about his gesture, Sreejesh said, "I think I did it to honour the people who elevate me and my performance every time and those are my teammates."

It was a perfect night for the Indian team and the goalkeeper as they defeated Japan 5-0 and kept a clean sheet.

"I was thinking about the win during the match. It is important to stay focused despite the magnitude of the occasion," said Sreejesh when asked about what was going in his mind given the importance of the occasion.

On Friday, by playing the Japan match, Sreejesh joined the distinguished list of goalkeepers who accumulated more than 300 appearances in hockey, consisting of Mansoor Ahmad (Pakistan), Kumar Subramaniam (Malaysia), and Quico Cortes (Spain).

Asked about how goalkeepers shape their careers, Sreejesh said," Goalkeepers have an advantage; they spend a lot of time on the bench. I spent a lot of time on the bench, and it allowed me to observe the matches and learn from them. I have learned from my mistakes and that has helped me."

Sreejesh was hailed by the Indian head coach Craig Fulton, "I have known Sreejesh for long and seen him grow over the years. It is a great feeling to have such an experienced player with us and I hope he continues playing for us."

The next task for Sreejesh and co. will be to win the Asian Champions Trophy and go to Asian Games as favourites.

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