Sandesh Jhingan joined Croatian first division club HNK Sibenik last week and has been in the news ever since following the comments he made after the transfer.
The 28-year-old sat in front of the media and expressed how he felt on joining a European first division club, claiming it to be a dream of every young Indian footballer to achieve what he has.
One of the most eye-catching comments made by Jhingan in his unveiling was, "I'm just a kid from Chandigarh who is chasing his dreams and trying to fulfil his potential."
Now, isn't that what every Indian kid dreams of?
Jhingan is a live example of how you can achieve your dreams and goals no matter what or how many obstacles life throws in front of you.
The 28-year-old centre-back started his footballing journey way back in 2011 when he featured for United Sikkim for two years before making the move to Mumbai FC in the I-League.
He then made the big move to Kerala Blasters in the ISL, which was followed by loan moves to Sporting Goa, DSK Shivajians and Bengaluru FC.
By the time he moved out of Bengaluru FC, Jhingan had already established himself as India's number one centre-back choice.
Sadly, an ACL injury saw him miss a lot of action for club and country, but the boy from Chandigarh showed tremendous mental courage to make a comeback.
ATK Mohun Bagan came in and signed Jhingan for the 2020-21 ISL season and the defender came up with some incredible performances for them throughout the campaign.
Seeing the progression of this incredible athlete?
All of these factors, the set-backs, the injury, the recovery, the period Jhingan spent away from the game, are things we can possibly never understand.
The move he has made now with HNK Sibenik should be a major confidence booster for every single young footballer out there that dreams are meant to be big, they are meant to be planned and only then, they are meant to be achieved.
In his interaction with the media after joining the Croatian club, Jhingan spoke about the role the Indian Super League played in his development right up till the moment he was able to realise his European dream, as revealed in the video below.
It was revealed by Sibenik's coach that Jhingan's profile was selected by their scouting team after looking at over 10,000 profiles as he not only brought defensive prowess, but also showcased tremendous leadership skills.
“We are thrilled and excited to have Sandesh here. We believe he is a great player and will be a leader for the young players. I like to form my teams around young players. But a key aspect in this regard is to have good leaders on and off the pitch.
For me, Sandesh and the 2-3 senior players we have, will be the good role models we need. He is a disciplined guy, focused and disciplined, and this is the kind of person we wanted in the club. It’s not only the young players in the first squad who will look up to him, the academy players also look up to the first team. Our idea beyond football is that he will help us as a person, as a leader and as a positive role model,” said Zapata, the club's CEO.
Jhingan has always maintained that he is someone who loves to explore and test himself out of his comfort zone.
Especially after returning from a long term ACL injury, it surely must take loads of mental toughness to take up a tough challenge like the one he has taken up.
Speaking about the same, Jhingan said, "I’ve always made decisions that put me outside of my comfort zone. I feel the moment you feel comfortable, you need to take a step up and keep making yourself uncomfortable. I wanted to go somewhere where I can see myself improve and excel more."
Revealing why he chose the Croatian league as his next destination, Jhingan said, "The growth of the national team has been immense, and the players play in the top leagues in Europe, and that's why I chose this league. I felt I would be tested to my limits, and that's how you improve.
"It will be challenging, but I trust myself and my work ethic. If I can put in the work like I always have done and stay disciplined then I can see if I can get into the starting XI. If not, then I need to put more effort. It's about me getting better. Whether I play or not is on me - if I play, then it’s ‘well done Sandesh’, if I don’t, then it’s ‘work hard Sandesh'."
Revealing how hard it was for him to leave ATK Mohun Bagan, Jhingan stated, "It was a hard decision to take because we dreamt of winning the AFC together, but that's how it is in football. Every Asian (footballer) has a desire to move to Europe. The opportunity came just now and I wish it came earlier. It came just when the AFC Cup was starting.
"It was tough but I had to make the decision. I felt it was the right age for me to take up a new challenge in my career. I am very thankful to everyone at ATK Mohun Bagan for supporting me. After my injury, many changed their opinions about me and that was surprising but ATK Mohun Bagan showed love and respect and faith in me and helped me have a great season. I enjoyed every second at ATK Mohun Bagan."
Jhingan chose to concluded on quite an emotional note as he highlighted his childhood dream as he said, "I had this thing in my mind that the sky is the limit when it comes to my potential to be a good human or wherever I invest my time in. That’s how my family brought me up as a child. I’m just running after that dream. I’m just a kid from Chandigarh who dreamt big, had the faith and belief that if I worked hard, was disciplined and made sacrifices then I could be anywhere. This step will help me in that path of becoming a better human and a footballer. I am chasing that potential."