Constantine has made an impact on ‘character building’ says Gurpreet
The first Indian Player ever to play in the UEFA Europa League Gurpreet Singh Sandhu feels National Coach Stephen Constantine has been successfully able to make an impact on “character building of Indian Players.”
“His leadership skills are exceptional. He stresses on character building which is beneficial for Indian Players. It helps in making mentality of the Players much stronger,” Gurpreet told a packed media interaction at the Andheri Sprts Complex on Wednesday (August 31, 2016) afternoon.
“It’s very important for the National Team to go through the transition phase. You need to look forward and have a long term plan. That’s what Constantine’s vision is,” he maintained. “My International debut against Asia’s No 1 Team Iran has been my most memorable moment for me so far.”
Gurpreet also reflected on the number of Players who have graduated from the AIFF Youth Development setup to the Senior National Team. “I think it’s a very good sign to play that so many of us who played under Colm-Sir (Toal) are presently in the National Team. We had a great setup he was a great Coach. He has done us so much to shape me up; in fact all of us,” Gurpreet said in one breath.
Besides Gurpreet, Narayan Das, Pritam Kotal, Pronay Halder, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Sumeet Passi, Halicharan Narzary, Germanpreet Singh, Issac Vanmalsawma, Daniel Lalhimpuia, Chinlensana Singh (from the present assembled squad) have all been groomed by Colm Toal from their U-16 days at the AIFF Youth Development setup.
In addition, Udanta Singh who was released because of an injury was one of Colm’s trainees while Vinit Rai has been part of the AIFF Academy setup.
Speaking about his stint in Norway, Sandhu mentioned that playing and training with better Players makes one a better Player.
“The weather and the atmosphere in Norway is better. It isn’t humid. The Players you play and train with are of a higher quality. That makes you a better Player too by allowing you raise your levels,” he maintained. “It is an uphill battle for me as I lost my spot in the Team after my injury and I won’t shy away from the challenge,” Gurpreet stated.
“I never thought that I would be reaching this point where I would be playing in Europe. It is a dream come true for me and I’m proud to have done what I have done – representing India at that level,” he opined. “I have grown as a Player in all aspects of my game both mentally and physically and polished all my skills.”
“It’s very important for me to challenge myself. I have achieved till a certain point. My aim was to break into the first Team and play in the League. Personally I want to try at a higher level at better League and better Clubs.”
It’s the first Official International match in Mumbai since 1955 and the first time a Team from CONCAF will be playing in India. “Puerto Rico are a good side as per the Rankings. But we are ready for the battle and will give everything on the field. We should play Teams like them to build ourselves.”
“I am very pleased with the facilities over here. The ground is good. In fact, we need Stadias like this in India which are not that big and where viewing is closer to the Stands – much like the European Leagues.”
Gurpreet also complemented Subrata Paul saying he has “learnt certain things” from the ‘Spiderman.’
“I have been with Subrata-bhai since 2010 which was the first time I was in the National Team squad. There are certain things which I have learnt from
him,” he admitted. “He fully deserves the Arjuna Award. I still feel he received it a bit late.”
“Goalkeeping techniques differ from Coach to Coach. The kind of training I get there is as per the Norwegian League as to what is required from a Goalkeeper playing in Norway. When I report to the National Cap it’s different because we have a different Coach with a different technique.”
“It helps me a lot personally as it allows me to build on two different things.”