“Football, coaching and this,” Sukhwinder Singh said while pouring pegs of his favourite tipple, “are the only things I know.” Frugal eating habits, yoga and a daily exercise regimen should preserve the association with whiskey but retirement from JCT next month could end the other two.
“I haven't really thought about it. I have never been approached by another club because everyone knew I wouldn’t leave JCT. Now, let's see,” he said, pre-empting HT's question on retirement plans. “All I know is that my house in Phagwara is ready and vacating official quarters won’t be a problem,” Sukhwinder, the face of the JCT football team for 17 years, said.
Since taking over from late GS Virk, the even-tempered Singh has won everything worth winning in Indian football, the journey beginning with a 4-2 drubbing of East Bengal on way to the 1992 Durand Cup trophy. “We beat all Kolkata teams in the Durand Cup that year.”
And it was during his four-year tenure as national coach that India notched up their biggest win in recent times — a 1-0 victory over UAE in April 2001. When Stephen Constantine’s India won the LG Cup ending the senior team's 31-year-wait for silverware, Sukhwinder was the technical director, a post he eventually relinquished.