Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC’s leading custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has taken the path less travelled for an Indian footballer – playing in an European top-flight league. The ex-East Bengal man is one of only five players to have played competitively outside the country and feels it has made him a better player in hindsight. Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, the Red Bull athlete looks back on his eventful career and what lies ahead.
On Bengaluru FC and the season thus far:
Pretty satisfied with the way we are at the moment. But as you know, there have been good and bad moments for us as a team. We should learn from the past experiences half way through the season.
On his red card in the 4-3 loss away to FC Goa
For me, the result matters more than any personal performances. Obviously, it was a setback, but it teaches you a lot. The loss in Goa and the two home defeats taught us a lot, and we need to learn from that and try to be more sensible with our style of play.
On the changing landscape of Indian football
When I was playing for East Bengal, ISL wasn’t there. What the ISL has brought to Indian football is something more. For sure the quality has gone up. You have good foreigners and coaches coming in, and you have franchises spending money on players and facilities.
On his time at Stabaek in Norway, and how it honed him into the player he is
I think my game has changed completely. I became very strong mentally. In that process, I became better physically as well. The experience taught me how to be a better person, and how to keep working when it feels like there is no hope.
On his lack of playing time there
It’s difficult when you’re a goalkeeper. It’s not an outfield position where you can shuffle around players. The guy who was playing ahead of me, Sayouba Mande had been part of the Ivorian team and had been playing in Norway for 4-5 years. People didn’t think I would earn my place and play. But I gained my position in the team by training hard — that was my goal.
On whether India U-17 goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh is making the right choice by going abroad
Yes, he should. Going to Europe is not a walk in the park. You need to choose the right option and sustain it. It’s not worth it if you go for 2 weeks or 6 months and come back.