Dheeraj Singh’s Motherwell FC trail just the start of arduous, uncertain journey
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Dheeraj Singh’s Motherwell FC trail just the start of arduous, uncertain journey

Dheeraj Singh, India’s first-choice goalkeeper during the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017, landed a trial with Scottish Premier League side Motherwell FC.

football Updated: Feb 07, 2018 19:28 IST
Shayne Dias
Shayne Dias
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Dheeraj Singh,Motherwell FC,Indian Arrows
Dheeraj Singh is travelling to Scotland where he will be training with Motherwell FC.(AIFF)

Dheeraj Singh’s heroic performances while manning the post for India in the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 led many to deem him the find of the tournament for the hosts. But Dheeraj’s departure from the Indian Arrows – the developmental side that play in the I-League – in order to pursue opportunities in Europe left many puzzled, since most believed he needed to play more before thinking of making such a move.

Even if Dheeraj impresses during his three-week training stint, he will still have to wait till July to obtain a transfer, when he turns eighteen. Simply put, Dheeraj’s decision to leave guaranteed first-team football for a shot at playing abroad is a gamble that could easily backfire.

‘This is the age!’

Bengaluru FC and Indian football team goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who was a part of Norwegian club Stabaek for three seasons, believes Dheeraj will only succeed by putting in the extra miles.

READ | India’s FIFA U-17 World Cup star Dheeraj Singh leaves for Motherwell FC trial

“It’s definitely not a walk in the park. Even if you go on your own merit and are ready to stay and fight there, it’s not easy. But the process made me mentally and physically tougher,” said Gurpreet, the only Indian to have played a UEFA Europa League.

He did, however, have a word of caution for Dheeraj, saying he should look to join a club that values his talent. “I hope he goes to a place where the team sees him as a player they can develop and use instead of seeing him as opportunity to enter the market in India.

“He is a hard working boy so I am sure if he goes to the right place it can happen. This is the age!”

Uphill battle

Dheeraj Singh will have to put in a lot of effort just to impress the right people at Motherwell FC, but his passage into the club’s first team is by no means guaranteed even if he does secure a contract.

Motherwell’s current first-team squad features three goalkeepers and they also have highly-rated young shot-stopper Rohan Ferguson on their books. The 20-year old is currently on loan to Airdrieonians FC but the deal expires at the end of this season, meaning there is every chance Motherwell will choose to retain him next season.

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Dheeraj’s best shot at a first-team berth will come if he gets signed, goes through the club’s academy and plays for the U-20 side, which currently features only one goalkeeper according to the club’s website.

Impressive performances at the youth level could potentially catch the attention of clubs elsewhere should Motherwell eventually deem him surplus to their requirements.

But it is quite clear that even with the support of the Indian football community behind him, Dheeraj’s dream to play for European club will only be accomplished through extreme hard work and perseverance.

First Published: Feb 07, 2018 19:28 IST