Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is one of the most popular names in Indian football in the recent years, thanks to his wonderful exploits between the goal posts. Born to a Punjabi family in the district of Rupnagar in 1992, he joined the St. Stephens Academy at a young age of just 8. With his natural talent […]
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is one of the most popular names in Indian football in the recent years, thanks to his wonderful exploits between the goal posts. Born to a Punjabi family in the district of Rupnagar in 1992, he joined the St. Stephens Academy at a young age of just 8. With his natural talent and the training he received at the academy, he soon became popular for his goalkeeping skills. He was soon picked in the youth team of East Bengal, one of the biggest football clubs in India.
From there, he went on to play for the Norwegian side Stabæk and became the first player to play in the first division of a country. He went a step further by becoming the first Indian to play in Europa League. He now plays for Bengaluru FC, a new but incredibly successful club in India with stars like Sunil Chetri in his team. Let us take a look at his astounding career graph and how he has made the country proud at an international stage.
An early bird on the rise
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s parents identified his skills pretty early and as a result, made him go to a football academy at a young age. This move turned out to be a masterstroke as he was quick to learn the art of goalkeeping. He was picked for the Punjab U-16 squad where he proved his worth with some wonderful saves in the tournament. As a result, he was then picked by the youth team of East Bengal, where he soon got a promotion to the senior team as well. With the Netherlands and Manchester United legend Van Der Sar being his idol along with the Indian stalwart, Subrata Paul, he was destined to reach greater heights for sure.
From India to Norway
In a four year spell at one of the leading footballs clubs in the country, East Bengal, Sandhu was loaned for a season at Pailan Arrows as well. He played quite well and dished out match-winning performances on a regular basis. Simultaneously, he was giving try-outs at various European clubs. He struck gold when the Norwegian side Stabæk signed him in 2014. At the age of 22, he had reached a level that no other Indian player had reached till now.
He gelled with the squad well but was not given first team appearances initially. He did make his senior team appearance in 2015, making him the first ever Indian to play in the top division of a European League. His major stint came in 2016 when he played a complete season of the National Norwegian Cup games 2016, where he stringed together various top-notch performances. On back of these performances, he was given a start in the 2016 Europa League qualifying round, making him the first Indian to play the prestigious tournament. However, due to the lack of match time, Sandhu decided to leave the club in 2017.
Back to India
Following the news of Sandhu leaving the Norwegian club in 2017, almost every Indian football club was ready to shell out money to get the 6ft 6in tall keeper. However, it was the cash-rich new football club of Bengaluru FC that snapped him for an undisclosed fee in 2017. He soon became their No.1 and helped them win their first Indian Super League title in the 2018-2019 Season.
An Indian Football Hero
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has already made his name as one of the best goalkeepers India has ever produced. His agility combined with his height is what makes him so threatening between the goal posts. The shot-stopper has single-handedly won India many matches by not conceding any goals.
Sandhu started his stint with the national team back in 2010 with India U19 team, where he made 10 appearances. He then became part of the U23 squad, representing the nation 9 times. He soon became part of the national squad but was not used regularly due to the presence of the senior statesman Subrata Paul. However, ever since Paul’s retirement, Sandhu has been at the forefront of things in Indian football at various tournaments, be it the world cup qualifiers or the AFC cup.
He has performed incredibly well over the years even against top international teams and has literally been a saviour for the team on many occasions. One cannot forget the recent performance he gave in the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers, playing against Oman, when he made as many as 20 saves in the match to deny Oman the 3 points. Surprisingly, it was also the first match he captained for India and it could be this added responsibility that brought about such a super-human performance from him. With many more years left in him, one can only hope for more from him in future performances. However, there is no denying the fact that he already is a football hero in India.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu showed the Indian football audience that even we can achieve great heights and play in European leagues if we have the talent and exposure at the right time. In a sport like football that is fast picking up pace in India at the grass-roots level, he is an inspiration for sure for all the youngsters dreaming big to play in the Champions League one day.