‘I was abandoned in my hour of need’
For the last one year Sandeep Singh was in the news for all the wrong reasons and his exclusion from the national team sparked controversies.Updated: May 19, 2008, 01:02 IST
For the last one year Sandeep Singh was in the news for all the wrong reasons and his exclusion from the national team sparked controversies. But the man in the middle of it did not come out with his version, despite intense media focus. Returning to the side, he has let his stick do the talking in the Azlan Shah Cup. With nine goals he is the highest scorer in the tournament. For a player who was accidentally shot at, his return to form is remarkable.
The otherwise introvert player opened his heart on his experiences during the past year.
How do you rate your performance after the comeback?
I have been scoring regularly and have fared well as a defender too. But we have not been playing well in the second half due to humidity.
Why did you opt to play for India despite an invite from a German club?
I played for them (the club) last year and two years in Holland before that. When I got the call, I gave priority to my country.
But you did not show any interest in the past year
Our standards have nose-dived. Failure at the Doha Asian Games and Chile (Olympic qualifiers) make me sad. Had I been fit, I feel we could have done better.
Why did you avoid playing for India during last year?
They asked to me flick 300 to 400 times a day. Is it not a ploy to exhaust a player? It is not practical. We should focus on accuracy and not on force. Even experts like Richard Charlesworth say the same.
Was this the only reason for avoiding the camps last year?
No. After the PHL (2007) I was suffering from fever. Reporters who came to my home were in the know. Then, I injured my fingers during the KD Singh Babu tournament. You can see the scars. But people thought I was shying away from hard work.
How did you come out of the shooting accident in the train?
I was in pain for six months. After two-and-half months in the hospital, I worked on my muscles and started practice during the Asian Games camp.
How was it in the hospital?
A doctor said I would not be able to move for six years. Being player how could I tolerate such a thing. Fortunately, Dr Vig and Dr MS Dhillon encouraged me. But there was no surety I would walk again. My legs were paralysed as the bullet had pierced the spine. Gradually things improved and when I went for physiotherapy in Holland, I decided I would play again.
You have some bad memories of the phase
Yes. We were living in a rented house and I waited for the government to help me. My family exhausted its resources to sustain my treatment. Even our landlord in Shahbad asked us to vacate the house. I got injured while I was travelling to join the World Cup team. Why did I not get any help?
I spent all my earnings for the treatment and survived only because of my job with Indian Airlines. In the last one year, I’ve put in my best for the Airlines team and in almost all the tournaments I’ve top scored or got the best player award.
(The writer is the editor of Stick2hockey.com)