Former India footballer Sandip Nandy on Wednesday rated Gurpreet Singh Sandhu as the top three goalkeepers in Asia and said it’s high time he should contemplate a career in J-League or in any European country.
A resolute Gurpreet made at least 10 saves to secure a goalless away draw against Asian champions Qatar in India’s World Cup qualifiers last month.
“I feel he should seriously contemplate pursuing his career in J-League or any top Asian country, or maybe another European country to prosper. That would make him richer as a player,” Nandy, who is the goalkeeping coach of North East United Football Club told PTI from Guwahati.
Having watched Gurpreet closely at his formative years in East Bengal in 2000-2011, Nandy said: “I have seen him from close quarters. He is a completely different goalkeeper at the moment.”
“He is a changed personality since 2011. His self-confidence has gone from strength to strength with each match and hopefully, he will carry it forward for some good years ahead.”
Nandy was full of praise for Gurpreet for his work ethic.
“A goalkeeper is all about how he carries himself. His confidence defines him. I just cannot stop going back to the match against Qatar. An Indian goalkeeper playing that manner for whole 90 minutes is still unthinkable,” he said.
“Never ever, did he take a false step, or fumble despite being under enormous pressure for the entire match. In fact, his confidence passed on to the entire team.”
The 44-year-old attributed Gurpreet’s success to top-flight Norwegian club Stabaek FC, where he joined from East Bengal in 2014 and became the first Indian to play at the UEFA Europa League when he featured in a qualifier against Welsh side Connah’s Quay Nomads FC.
“He has evolved like anything since then. His stint with Stabeak, according to me, was the turning point in his career. I reiterate he is currently one of the top three in Asia,” Nandy opined.
India are currently on one point from two matches in Group E and they next face bottom-ranked Bangladesh in the World Cup qualifiers here on October 15.