India’s No. 1 custodian looks to make strong impression.
Bengaluru: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is #Blue, as they say in today’s lexicon.
Bengaluru FC pulled off a major coup when they roped in the towering goalkeeper from Norwegian side Stabaek last week making him the only Indian player to be signed from abroad with a transfer fee.
“BFC are a very professional club and I am really happy with the facilities on and off the pitch. I just want to make most of the experience,” revealed Gurpreet just days after joining his new team-mates following a protracted transfer saga between Stabaek, Portuguese top division side Boavista FC and the Garden City club.
“I have a huge respect for BFC because of the way they run the club. There were other clubs who were interested (from India). But I was at a point where Stabeak wanted a transfer fee and regardless of that these guys were always there. That’s something I really liked. And moreover, for me, international competitions like AFC Cup matter a lot.
“The kind of player and person I am, I will do everything and anything for BFC. When I play I will give my 100% and do whatever is needed,” Gurpreet added signalling his intent, ahead of Wednesday’s AFC Cup Inter-Zonal semi-final clash against April 25 S.C.
“We have been analysing as much as we know about the North Korean side. It won’t be easy. They have come so far and there is a reason for that. It’s an international competition, at a good level, so I’m expecting a tough game.”
It’s easy to see why there are huge expectations on the 25-year-old: a league debut at 17, three years in Norway first division and the number one choice for the country. While his stint in Stabaek had its ups and downs in terms of minutes on the field, there is no denying how far ahead the Indian international is, compared to his contemporaries.
“(I improved in) everything. I can’t point one thing like that. It’s like polishing a diamond. That’s what happened in Norway. I worked day in day out under good coaches with the right training and guidance. That improved everything in my game and also made me a better person,” he stressed.
And it is that experience that allows him to look at this return to India as an opportunity.
“If you compare the quality of football, everyone knows that (India is behind). We are good but, no disrespect to the players, we are behind. At the same time, if you say it’s a step back, I don’t think so. I went there and became better at what I do. I am still the same. I haven’t gone back in my skills or talent. So I don’t see it like that. I see it as an opportunity,” remarked the custodian making it clear his move was all for consistent playing time.
Looking ahead to Europe
An opportunity to get back to the European leagues.
“I want to go to Europe. Why not? I don’t know why people think that I didn’t want to go a step higher. I want to, but only on my terms. I don’t want to go there for the wrong reasons. There have been examples which happened before with Indian players who went abroad for the wrong reasons. They came back. I don’t want that to happen to me,” he said, creating a nice Segway on the topic of Indian players playing abroad.
“I think it’s the mentality. First of all, they need to be brave enough and see the bigger picture. I always say players should go out at their teenage and they should ensure people around them are selfless and guide them well,” opined the former East Bengal keeper.
“If they see a player’s talent, they should give the player a bigger platform, where he can improve. India is improving in every aspect of football but the speed is not fast enough. Right now, I think, if a player gets a chance to go out, you go out and use that. It will be useful for your country and your career,” he signed off.