Gurpreet Singh Sandhu: The goalkeeping position is a thankless job

Few people will argue with the fact that Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is one of India’s finest players in recent memory. The lanky 6 feet 6-inch custodian has emerged as the nation’s No.1 goalkeeper over the past few years, owing to his impressive and commanding displays under the sticks. His performances for the national team and Hero Indian Super League (ISL) side Bengaluru FC have earned him considerable praise from fans and experts alike. During India’ demolition of Chinese Taipei in the Hero Intercontinental Cup on Friday, Sandhu revealed his goalkeeping prowess yet again to end the tie with a clean sheet.

Ahead to the inaugural tournament, the shot-stopper spoke exclusively to indiansuperleague.com. He started off by explaining how he manages to stay focused during a high-intensity game. “I think, I just try to keep myself in the game. That’s very, very important. If I don’t keep myself in the game while we are in the opposition half, it gets very difficult for me. So, it was very important that I make myself clear and keep myself in the game. “

The 26-year-old also shed light on the perils that a goalkeeper faces during times of trial, citing the mistakes committed by Loris Karius during the 2018 UEFA Champions League final. “I think the goalkeeping position is a thankless job. So, of course, when you make mistakes like that, you need to be strong enough to take the criticism. But, the main thing is you improve from there and you learn from your mistakes. Because if you don’t, then you don’t go forward.”

Former Bengaluru coach Albert Roca was an integral figure during Gurpreet’s first season with the Blues and he took the opportunity to express his gratitude towards the Spaniard. “I was lucky enough to make a lot of good memories with him. The way he trusted me and showed confidence in me was something that I liked. Winning the Super Cup trophy for him and throughout the season there were games where he trusted me with the opportunity and I owe him my gratitude.”

With the quality of goalkeepers in India increasing with each passing year, competition for that one spot in the team is as tight as ever. But Gurpreet remains focused on working hard. “Of course it’s going to be difficult when you have good quality goalkeepers in Amrinder (Singh), Vishal (Kaith) and the others, like Sanjiban (Ghosh) and Subrata (Paul) and whoever played in the Hero ISL. But I need to make sure that I don’t take my place for granted and I just need to keep working hard and improving because if I don’t, someone else will take my place.”

Finally, Gurpreet spoke about the importance of communication within the team, especially among the defenders. “I think it is very, very important to have communication in the back-line. Especially when you are a goalkeeper, you need to make sure that you are contacting and communicating with your back four. If you don’t, it is a big minus. That kind of communication builds coordination. It makes your life easy, their life easy and the more you can avoid situations together, it is better for the team.”

To watch the full interview, click here.

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