National call-up is my motivation: Sandeep Singh

NEW DELHI,Adit Ganguly(WEB TEAM): A horrific accident in 2006 that left him on a wheelchair for two years, and then being sidelined by the national selectors, finishing with 11 goals in each of the two seasons of the Hockey India League (HIL) yet not emerging triumphs. It hasn’t been easy for former India captain Sandeep Singh.

With the third edition of HIL three days away, the Punjab Warriors drag-flicker is once again hopeful that this year both his wishes will come true — making a comeback to the national side and his side going all the way in the league.

Singh knows that his focus has to be on the challenge ahead. Despite finishing as the top-scorer in the tournament for two years straight, the 28-year old says that it’ll take much more than his goals if he hopes to make a return to the Indian team.

“That’s the motivation I have for this year’s edition. What’s it going to take for me to play for India again? I still hope of playing for the national team. The first two seasons are past now. No one will remember the goals I have scored if I don’t do anything this time,” said Singh, who finished runners-up with Punjab last season after an agonising 1-3 loss in the penalty shootout.

Preparations have been in full swing in Chandigarh and the full back is all praise for coach Barry Dancer and the mood inside the Warriors camp.

“It’s so cold here,” he told dna from Chandigarh over phone. “We wanted to start as soon as possible and can’t wait to hit the ground running.

“The final last year was heartbreaking. We discussed our performances in the shootout and that has been seen in the training. Barry Dancer wasted no time in getting straight to the areas that needed to be worked upon. It’s been more or less the same time with the same mix of Australians, Argentinians and Jaap Stockman from The Netherlands. So, the bonding is already there,” said Singh.

The drag-flicker may have been away from the national side for the past three years but he’s kept a close eye on VR Raghunath and Rupinder Singh, India’s preferred choices when it comes to penalty corners.

“Penalty corners are a weapon in today’s game. Raghunath and Rupinder are young and will only learn as they play more. But I’m just two years older than Raghunath, so I’m not going anywhere. That’s why I can’t wait for the season to start,” said Singh, who was part of the Indian team that won silver in the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Singh’s not only recovered from the injury in 2006, when he was accidentally shot in a train, but also made a stunning comeback and established himself in the Indian team.

Besides, a good performance at the HIL and a return to the national team, Singh also hopes that a movie based on his life sees the light of the day.

“The movie is very much in the pipeline. It will take time but I hope move closer to finalising the cast and other details,” said Singh, a DSP in the Haryana police. He may want a movie on his life, but he left it for the future when asked what kind of ending would he want the movie to have. “Sab aaj hi puch loge? (Will you ask me everything today),” said Singh with a laugh.