‘Jhingan move to Europe will inspire many Indian players to follow suit’
National coach Igor Stimac believes Sandesh Jhingan’s move to Croatian top-tier club HNK Sibenik will inspire many players in India to pursue their football career abroad in the time to come.
Jhingan left 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) finalists ATK Mohun Bagan earlier this month and took up the opportunity with the Croatian club.
“…Others in India will follow him soon. I’m quite sure about that and it’s very important for Indian football that he does well in Croatia. He will bring attention to India,” Stimac told on the latest episode of Football United.
The 53-year-old Croatian says he has high expectations but it won’t be easy for the 28-year-old Indian defender in the Prva HNL.
“I’m so happy for Sandesh. It’s a great challenge for him and he took it with courage, he took it with his heart and his professionalism. It’s not going to be easy because the level of quality in the Croatian league is going to be very high. A lot of young talented players are coming out these clubs and they are playing in top-five leagues in Europe, so the competition will be massive for him,” he explained.
Jhingan hasn’t played any games for HNK Sibenik so far on account of an injury. Stimac advises Jhingan to focus on getting fully fit first before he sets his mind on showing the world what he is capable of.
“It’s unfortunate that he has got injured and might miss 5-8 weeks of the championship. First, he needs to get fit and then start representing Indian football in Europe. He can do that only if he is 100 percent fit,” he said.
Jhingan had earlier admitted that Stimac had a big hand in his decision of moving to Croatia. “I did speak to the gaffer when we were in Qatar. I had received a call from my manager and he told me that this club has shown interest in you. Then I spoke to the gaffer about it and he told me the pros and cons. I have always been in touch with him. He is close to the director here [at HNK Sibenik] as well, so yes, I was always in touch with him and he gave me a lot of confidence.
“And he told me, ‘This move will help you a lot in your career, it will enhance your game.’ He was always involved in this, I always called him for suggestions,” Jhingan said after joining HNK Sibenik earlier this month.