Inspired by braveheart Banks, Baljit eyes India spot | india | Hindustan Times
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Inspired by braveheart Banks, Baljit eyes India spot

Inspired by former India cricket captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and England goalkeeper Gordon Banks, who made a comeback after losing vision in the right eye in 1972 and was voted the best goalkeeper of the North American Soccer League in 1977, Baljit Singh is eyeing the national jersey again.

india Updated: Jun 29, 2011 00:46 IST
Saurabh Duggal

Inspired by former India cricket captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and England goalkeeper Gordon Banks, who made a comeback after losing vision in the right eye in 1972 and was voted the best goalkeeper of the North American Soccer League in 1977, Baljit Singh is eyeing the national jersey again.

The goalkeeper has been called for the national camp after an eye injury forced him out in July 2009. Since the freak mishap, Baljit went out of contention and it was only last year that he made a comeback to the domestic circuit.

"When I was in the US for surgery, the doctor inspired me with Gordon Banks' example and it is motivation that's got me back. For the last seven-eight months, I have been trying hard to regain my spot in the national squad, and I am happy at the call. My next target is to be in the team," said Baljit, who injured his right eye when a golf ball sneaked through the helmet visor during a camp in Pune.

Baljit's vision in the right eye is restricted to seeing the shadow of an object at a distance of around 15 yards, but it is enough to make him the team's dependable man under the bar.

"Out of the last five major domestic tournaments I've played, my team (Indian Oil) has won three tournaments and I have been adjudged the best goalkeeper in two. My injury is no more hurdle," he said.

Baljit played a crucial role in Punjab's National Games triumph in February, and it was on the basis of this performance that he was considered for the camp. Even chairman of the selection committee, Col Balbir Singh, who was the team manager for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, made a strong recommendation for Baljit in his post-tournament report.

"To keep Adrian D'Souza and Bharat Chetri on their toes, Baljit, who has recovered and gave a sterling performance in the National Games, be included in the forthcoming camp," Balbir said in his report.

Baljit's only request is that if he performs well in the camp, his eyesight shouldn't be considered a hurdle.