Sandesh Jhingan is a robust and strong field presence and has become one of the most popular and passionate footballers in India.
Sandesh Jhingan‘s Talk With FIFA.com
The central defender was tough in the challenge and strong in the air. It was crucial for India’s strong AFC Asian Cup campaign last year – just the second tournament in 35 years. In the absence of the legendary skipper Sunil Chhetri, he even commanded India.
With striking long hair and a beard, Jhingan cuts an impressive figure. But the appearance can of course be misleading.
Away from the field, Jhingan’s diligent and thoughtful manner deviates from his role in the field. Jhingan is a poet and short story writer when time permits. He is also an avid historian and has considered views on social issues.
Work Hard, Stay Positive, Make History 💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/hbeCfMQD0S— Sandesh Jhingan (@SandeshJhingan) May 6, 2020
A serious knee injury last September meant a forced absence from the game, but like some other notable soccer players during the COVID-19 suspension, Jhingan made the most of his downtime.
The 26-year-old, born in Chandigarh, worked furiously to return to India’s remaining qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, which were scheduled to take place two months ago and have now been postponed indefinitely. But he also spent time putting thoughts and feelings into writing.
“I’ve always had a love for the written word,” Jhingan told FIFA.com. “I would get goose bumps if I read a nice line from a book or a song.
“When I hang up my boots, my dream is to make my book come true.”
At the moment, however, the main goal is to promote the progress of Indian football. It’s hard to imagine a more passionate person for this.
“Other Asian children want to play for Man United, Real Madrid, but as a child, I always dreamed of playing for India,” said Jhingan.
“I remember when I was 14, 15 years old, watching the national team and scribbling in school which formation to play and exchanging ideas with my friends.
“I love my country so much. I’ve always been proud of it. When I left the national team camp in 2010 as a teenager, I hoped that I would only sing the national anthem if I had formed the national team.
“On March 12, 2015, I made my national team debut and was finally allowed to sing the national anthem, and I have never sung it so loudly. I got a tattoo to mark the date. Even now when I’m called up to a national team, I pray a little prayer. It’s great to play for 1.3 billion people and do my best for them. “
Jhingan has played more than his role in his five years as a representative of India. He played a prominent role in India, just seconds before reaching the Asian Cup knockout stage for the first time since 1964, only that the Blue Tigers had suffered a heartache in added time in their last group game.
Despite a strong draw against the Qatar continental champion, India’s campaign for the third round of the 2022 World Cup qualification is now almost mathematically over. However, the qualification for the 2023 Asia Cup remains firmly in view.
“It was a good learning experience,” said Jhingan. “You have to do your best and if things don’t go the way you want, you have to learn from them
“Things have gone very well [in recent years]. We played four clean sheets and had an undefeated run of 13 games.
“We felt we could get the winner towards the end [against Qatar in World Cup qualification] and that shows how much our mentality as a national team has improved.
“We have to have this dream to be able to take part in the World Cup, and it is a dream that I also have. It’s something I want to achieve like crazy before hanging my boots on. If I don’t make it as a player, I will do everything I can to help India qualify through coaching.
“But we have to understand that we have to take steps in this direction. The Asian Cup last year and all of these things are a stepping stone towards this bigger dream. “
Jhingan only started one day during his entire six-month rehabilitation, and that was because of New Year’s travel. He is not only inspiring through his actions, but also through his words.
“I didn’t feel sorry for myself for a second when the injury happened,” he said. “I took it as a challenge. It is part of the game and some of the greats have suffered such injuries.
“I learned a lot from it [absence]. I feel strong now. Whatever happens now, I am confident that I can handle it.
“I don’t have to be mentally strong to survive an injury. There are people without houses who wonder where their next meal comes from, there are people who are born disabled. I don’t know why we have injuries and things like that have to make big.
“I have a family, I have a house. If I worry, it will be an injustice to the people who are really in trouble. “