One of India’s mainstays in the backline over the last couple of years and stalwart at the back for each club he plays, Sandesh Jhingan has been significantly consistent with his solid blocks, aerial prowess, and leadership qualities.

With 139 Indian Super League (ISL) appearances and 60 national team appearances, Jhingan brings immense experience and quality that help boost the team’s morale and self-confidence. From being the best-emerging player to being one of the most consistent Indian defenders in recent times, the 30-year-old Punjab-born defender’s journey is truly admirable for every young Indian footballer looking to build their career.

In a recent episode of the In The Stands show hosted by Suyash Upadhyaya, Jhingan shared insights on his career story, his stints with different ISL clubs, and his aim during the upcoming AFC Asian Cup.

Playing in the ISL for a decade, Jhingan has represented three ISL clubs: Kerala Blasters FC, Bengaluru FC, and Mohun Bagan SG prior to joining FC Goa. While speaking about his club career, he revealed some special memories that helped him grow as a footballer.

“I had great memories with Kerala Blasters FC. My parents saw me playing live for the first time in Kerala. Back in those days, I used to play as a right back; someone from our team scored a goal if not me, and I literally felt an earthquake then. For a 21-year-old like me, it was just amazing,” he said in the episode.

“We had a great season in the first year despite losing in the finals. I still remember that we (KBFC) had a chance on the opposition half in the last minutes of the final match (against ATK FC), but we missed that, and on a counter-attack, Mohammed Rafique scored the winning goal (in the 95th minute). Within a matter of seconds, they won the ISL trophy. Every time I stepped up on the pitch in the stadium, the love that I got (there) was brilliant,” he shared.

Watch the full episode below:

“I would be a BFC fan when they won the I-League and the ISL. Last season was the most memorable, not because I was a part of it. It was just a crazy journey. More than the things that happened on the pitch, I just love those chats we had in the dressing room with me, Sunil Chhetri, and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. In spite of being placed at the tenth or eleventh spot on the table, we had a sheer belief in ourselves that we could reach the final. Not even for a single day, anyone from our squad thought we couldn’t reach there,” he continued.

“Goa has always been kind, beautiful, generous, openhearted, and loved to be here. The city is great and respectful in terms of how it welcomes whoever comes here. It's so good to be here. Working with Manolo Marquez and enjoying the team is good; everyone is helpful and nice. My batchmates, like Rowllin Borges, and all of us came here together, which also helped. The fans, owners, and my family are happy in Goa,” he added.

Jhingan explained how he became affectionate with football after seeing his national heroes play for the country. Speaking in context, he said, “I fell in love with this sport (football) because of the national team. I love the country then, now, and forever.”

Jhingan, who is going to play in the AFC Asian Cup for the second time in his career, is aiming for nothing but the biggest prize, the trophy. He urges all his players to leave no stone unturned with their preparations ahead of their vital international campaign, but he wants to stay focused on chasing their dreams and keep believing in their abilities.

“I never say step by step. I always say to aim for the bigger prize, the stars, and the trophy,” he said.

“It’s very important to have that thought and put in ten times the amount of work. If you make it, feel that you’re lucky and blessed enough. If you don’t make it try harder tomorrow. But it’s very important to have that thought,” Jhingan signed off.