Sandesh Jhingan is not the one who wears his heart on his sleeve. On rare occasions- both on and off field- he lets his emotions flow; like he did when he was first selected for the Indian U-19 camp two years ago. On Monday,he found himself overwhelmed by powerful emotions once again.
Reason: The news of the selection of Indian football team for the two friendlies against the Phillipines (November 15) and Nepal (November 19) had already reached him and his disappointment was palpable when he did not find his name mentioned in the list. Like him,other internationals like Nirmal Chettri,Subrata Paul,Syed Nabi and Gouramangi Singh were left out of the two friendly matches.
These players,like Sandesh,had recently signed for the Indian Super League,a football tournament on the lines of Indian Premier League. However,with the I-League clubs reiterating that they will not sign players associated with IMG-Reliance’s Indian Super League,players like Sandesh have found themselves in a spot of bother.
“I signed for ISL right after my club United Sikkim FC was relegated from I-League because at that stage,I found the concept of ISL interesting. There were no protests from the I-League clubs when IMG-Reliance signed players like us but later on they refused to sign players who had signed contract with IMG-Reliance. However,I am still optimistic of playing for an I-League club,” said Sandesh.
When Sandesh jumped on the bandwagon by winning the U-19 BC Roy Trophy and then became a regular member in the starting lineup of United Sikkim,he was heralded as one of the exciting young talents. After managing to impress Indian football coach Wim Koevermans and attracting attention from two Chinese League One clubs,Sandesh soon became a target for big I-League clubs,who were impressed with his defending skills and professionalism.
One such club who wanted to secure his services was Dempo SC. With stars players like Jeje Lalpekhlua,Clifford Miranda (captain) in its ranks,the three-time I-League winners could have been the ideal club for Sandesh to blossom into a fine player. But Sandesh made an audacious decision to reject the offer made by the club.
“Dempo is a big club and to receive an offer from them in itself was a big thing for me. There is no doubt that being associated with the club and playing under coach Arthur Papas would have benefitted me as a player. However,I don’t regret my decision,” shared the 20-year-old.
Rumour mills were also abuzz with the news of Sandesh signing for I-League club,Pailan Arrows- now diabanded by the All India Football Federation as the club sponsors was unable to financially support the team. “It was just a rumour,I never signed with them. I had just gone to meet the officials,that’s all,” clarified Sandesh.
Sandesh,a former student of Shishu Niketan School,Sector 22,turned heads with consistent performance at the state level. He further consolidated his reputation as a solid defender with fine performances to help Chandigarh win the DR BC Roy Trophy for Under-19 football tournament and also played the anchors role in helping St Stephen’s Football Academy reach the South East Asia finals of the Manchester United Premier Cup.
His performances impressed Bhaichung Bhutia and then United Sikkim,the Sikkimese club owned by Bhutia,offered him a contract when they were still in I-League 2nd Division. He was part of the team that was later promoted to I-League 1st Division last year.
Since then,Sandesh made several memorable appearances for the Sikkim-based club but parted ways with the club when they were relegated to the I-League Second Division in April earlier this year.
Now,Sandesh is looking forward to start playing again and wear the India colours soon.
I want to become a regular member of the Indian team and if possible,play for foreign clubs also, he signed off.