When someone talks about Indian football, the first and foremost name that comes to mind is arguably Sunil Chhetri. Owing to his exploits on the field, the Indian captain reigns supreme like no other in the country. His consistency to find the back of the net has often aided his side, which, in turn, has allowed him to carve his own niche in a sport that is still finding its feet in the cricket-crazy nation.
While Chhetri continues to enjoy the spotlight, there are a lot of other Indian footballers who continue to work just as hard as their skipper but still somehow fail to capture the imagination of the fans. And, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu's journey in football has been no different.
Learning the ways of life in Chandigarh, an eight-year-old Sandhu was busy dreaming about playing cricket like most of the kids in India. Thanks to his cricket-obsessed father, he got enrolled at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) academy in Mohali. But, the young lad soon realised that it wasn't his forte. And, despite his father's insistence, he decided to end his stint with cricket.
© Red Bull
So how did Sandhu venture into football, let alone become India's custodian in front of the goalposts? Well, Sandhu didn't choose football, the sport chose him instead.
As a kid, he never really watched much football. Even when he got selected for the India Under-16 side in 2007, Sandhu still had his apprehensions about the sport. It was his chance encounter with Blackpool legend John Burridge in 2011 that would eventually shape up his football career.
Urged by Burridge to try his luck in Europe, Sandhu's foreign climes eventually materialised when Norwegian club Stabaek FC came calling in 2014. Three years later, he became the first Indian footballer to play for the first team in the top-flight Europa League. After his three-year stint in Norway, Sandhu returned to India and has been plying his trade with two-time I-League champions Bengaluru FC.
Today, Sandhu has not only managed to establish himself as India's first-choice goalkeeper, but he is also regarded as a youth icon in the country.
But, while the 26-year-old's goalkeeping skills have earned him a lot of plaudits, not much is known about his life away from the playing field. In a candid chat, the Red Bull athlete revealed what makes him tick when he isn't guarding the goal on the field.Deciphering Internet Lingo
Slang on the internet can be difficult to follow if you don't have your nose in front of a screen all day. It moulds and changes itself so often, that yesterday's meme can have no value tomorrow. Yet there are some classic terms on the internet that never grow old. But does Gurpreet know these terms as well as he knows to 'make himself big'? When asked to decipher internet lingo, the footballer knew a few, but TBH he did say IDK an awful lot.The World Of Social Media
While some people think a hundred times before they upload something on social media, some hit the upload button as soon as they are done editing the photo.
Everyone has their own process; even Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. When quizzed about his social media posts, the footballer spilled the beans on why his grandmother seemed to have giant Hulk hands, when Rahul Dravid asked to wear his gloves, and the origins of his nickname “Burj Khalifa”.Fill In The Blanks
The Indian football team goalkeeper is a huge figure and fills up the space between the goal posts effectively. But would he be able to fill in the blanks when asked about his life?
Gurpreet was just as comfortable revealing his likes and dislikes, what he loves to have with him when on tour, and who the one person is that he would want to switch lives with. If you have followed Gurpreet for a while, you won't be surprised to know the name of the sportsperson he most admires.FIFA Avatar
While he may have become the highest-rated Indian footballer in the FIFA 18 game, Gurpreet isn't really happy with the way his character looks. The face and mannerisms are all wrong, Gurpreet says. So there was only one thing to do – get Gurpreet to create his own avatar in FIFA. But that would be too easy, so he was quizzed with some important questions about football while he scrolled through the Create Player screens.