Doha, May 27 (UNI) Young footballer Dheeraj Singh feels training with senior goalkeepers Gurpreet Singh and Amrinder Singh is a huge learning for him and he wants to continue the process in order to establish himself in the Indian national team.
The 20-year-old Dheeraj is one of the three goalkeepers – along with Gurpreet and Amrinder – in the India squad which is training here ahead of the joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers beginning on June 3.
“I feel really happy to be part of the national team and it is an honour for me to get this opportunity at a young age. I get to learn a lot of things from the senior players by playing and training with the best goalkeepers in the league.
We have Gurpreet paji and Amrinder paji and it’s a very important thing for me and I am looking forward to learning lots of things from them – both on and off the pitch,” Deeraj told AIFF TV.
The former U-17 World Cupper and Indian Arrows custodian, who received his first Blue Tigers call-up in November last year, recollected his welcome to the national team ‘family’ and explained how he has been learning from his seniors.
“I still remember when I got the first call-up for the senior national team –- they (Gurpreet and Amrinder) congratulated me and the team welcomed me like a family member,” said Dheeraj who is yet to earn his senior India cap,’ he said.
“They keep motivating me, help me rectify my mistakes during training and tell me what to do and what not to do. It is something very important and a huge learning for me,” he added.
He spoke about the strength and depth of the Blue Tigers’ goalkeeping department, terming it as a ‘tough competition’.
“Honestly speaking, we have very good goalkeepers in India -– in the senior national team and the leagues. We have most clubs playing with Indian goalkeepers domestically.
It’s a very tough competition and a tough challenge for me and for every goalkeeper as they (senior goalkeepers) have set benchmark for us to try and reach. I am working for that chance and know that I have to use the coming opportunity in the best way,” the goalkeeper said.
The former AIFF Academy cadet averred also shared his thoughts on the overall rise in the number of top-quality goalkeepers domestically, starting right from the junior level and the increase in the opportunity for Indian custodians to gain playing time.
“Now, we have most clubs playing with Indian goalkeepers domestically. Obviously, for a goalkeeper, it is very important to play regularly to gain confidence. Training and playing matches are totally different as when you play games, you learn a lot of things and there are many unique situations that come up in the matches,’ Dheeraj said.
‘It’s a good experience for a goalkeeper to keep on playing matches consistently,” he added.