Sandesh Jhingan finds Sachin Tendulkar’s positivity “contagious” and for motivation, the rising India footballer knows he need not look beyond the cricket legend, and his world cup glory after six attempts.
Tendulkar previously co-owned Indian Super League franchise Kerala Blasters, in which Jhingan played for six years.
During a Facebook interactive organised by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), Jhingan said, “After losing to ATK in the final of the first edition of ISL, we were so heartbroken.
“I was so drained and upset. He came to me and calmly said ‘Sandesh, it took me 6 attempts to win the World Cup. You can’t lose your heart after losing it in the first go.”
One of India’s best defenders at the moment, he added, “His positivity is so contagious. When he’s around you, you will feel cheered up, positive. His calmness is something which every one of us must take a lesson from. That’s why he’s a legend.”
Jhingan said the ISL played a role in Indian football’s overall development in recent years.
“Rising from 173 to 96 in the FIFA rankings, we have travelled a long way till now. From playing tough games against Nepal to giving tough time to Qatar in Qatar — Indian football has experienced a lot in recent times.”
The AIFF’s Arjuna Awardee nominee added: “I believe ISL deserves the due credit. We shared the dressing room with players whom we looked up during our childhood. They were untouchable when we were kids. That has provided us with the motivational boost.”
Jhingan spoke about how he learned by playing with European players such as Wes Brown and Aaron Hughes during his stint with Kerala Blasters FC.
“We never realised how good we were until we played against quality opponents. The foreign exposure games left a huge impact on our recent transition. Games against PR China, Qatar, Puerto Rico and mostly the matches in AFC Asian Cup helped us gain the boost in a big way.
“The current batch is very ambitious. Since making debut with Pritam and all in 2015, I have seen this batch throughout.”
Talking about the draw against Qatar in the World Cup Qualifier in Doha, he said: “Even when we walked out of the dressing room it didn’t cross our mind that we can’t do well against Qatar in Qatar. We got in there, stuck in there and got the results. Everybody (in the team) wants the result. Everyone is equally ambitious.”
“2026 (World Cup) is not very far. It’s not only those 23 players and support staff who contribute to the team’s performance — it’s every single Indian who have to stick together, no matter what.”
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