Of hope, grit, and determination: How football shaped Sandesh Jhingan's life

If the topic of seasoned players comes up, one name will always be brought to light and that is of the man from Chandigarh, Sandesh Jhingan, who represents the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) side Bengaluru FC.

Born on July 21, 1993, Jhingan began his professional career in 2011 with training at St. Stephen’s Academy, where he helped his side reach the South-East Asian finals of the Manchester United Premier Cup.

"Football saved my life so, its like good hope for me," Jhingan said while speaking to indiansuperleague.com

He made his senior professional debut in 2012 with I-League side United Sikkim, where he was considered a bright talent, which eventually earned him a move to the Hero ISL in 2014 when he signed for Kerala Blasters FC. A terrific debut season with the Blasters clinched him the Emerging Player of the Season award followed by earning his first appearance for the Indian national team in the World Cup Qualifiers in the subsequent year. 

The 29-year-old has shown promise ever since his early career days and was someone who was everpresent in the team due to his ability to lead a side and safeguarding the backline, be it at the club level or national level.

“He (Jhingan) for me is one of the ideal central defenders in India, he is aggressive, he is a leader and his positioning is second to none. You want to have a player like him to make you feel good and make you feel safe, and that is what (Sandesh) Jhingan brings to the game,” said Erik Paartalu, who has played against the Bengaluru FC defender in the Hero ISL.

“He is not flashy, he is not the guy to do the step overs. He knows that he’s a central defender who loves to make a tackle and help his teammates, every single performance he puts his heart on his sleeve,” Paartalu added.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Jhingan's club and national teammate, who is known for his passion and dedication for the game believes the defender's ability.

“He (Jhingan) is a true leader, he is a person with a lot of passion towards the game and towards the team,” he opined.

Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson seized upon the opportunity of signing a player of Jhingan's calibre as the defender returned to his former side for a second stint ahead of the ongoing season. 

“We make sure that we work on Jhingan to be very good on his good things, but we also work on his weaker things. He knows his strengths and weaknesses, and the one thing he has is the will to not concede goals, he wants to make blocks and tackles, which bring solidity at the back,” said Grayson.

While his ability to lead the side is often spoken about, Jhingan is also known for his attitude of being vocal around his teammates. A trait that helps them to feel comfortable on the pitch and also aids the young players in the team to push themselves beyond their limits.

A veteran in the game, Jhingan has been a thorough part of Indian football. Having plied his trade through several Indian clubs, the defender believes in having a steady approach in football.

“I have been in football long enough to understand you should not make big plans, every team in the Hero ISL wants to win the league. We should always look at one game at a time, our aim is to play good football, stick to the plan of the coach, and play to our full strength,” the defender concluded.

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