The defender also revealed his plans for the future and had special praise for a soon-to-be Premier League player.
It was a rollercoaster of a season for centre-back Sandesh Jhingan with Indian Super League outfit Kerala Blasters as the team endured a endured a forgettable league campaign and also failed to find any success in the inaugural Super Cup
English Premier League broadcasters Star Sports Select recently organized a screening of the iconic league clash between Manchester United and Arsenal at the High Street Phoenix Mall in Mumbai, where the defender was in attendance as he watched the match and interacted with fans.
Khel Now correspondents Sabin Castelino and Shivam Tiwari caught up with the India international on the sidelines of the event to get his reflections on the past campaign and look ahead to the next challenges with the national team.
Watch Sandesh Jhingan’s exclusive interview with Khel Now
Speaking of his time with the national team Jhingan thanked coach Stephen Constantine saying, “Firstly, I’m very glad and have been lucky as well that I’ve been playing for the national team. It is a great honour for any player to play for the country regularly. I waited for it. Two years I didn’t get any chances. But, I’m very happy that Stephen has shown confidence in me that I can hold that back four together. I’m really happy.”
Asked about his favourite defensive partner in the national team the centre-back said, “Memorable ones if you say, partners – I’ve had really good partners. Arnab (Mondal) and I were really good together and a lot of others are coming now. But, Anas (Edathodika) is my favourite. He is the best friend of mine (sic). He is a player who plays with a lot of emotion which I really like. He is a really top lad and I really like playing with him.”
In our recent conversation with Jhingan’s former Kerala Blasters’ Icelandic teammate, Baldvinson had remarked that Jhingan was one of the few players who have the calibre to ply their trade in Europe. “I would like to be honest. Right now, my contract is with Kerala Blasters. So, I can’t say anything about that. My first priority, my blood, my bones, my everything is for Kerala Blasters and for the national team,” Jhingan, who has recently rejected a lucrative deal from ATK, commented.
Jhingan is intent with his ambitions
“As for the foreign thing, I would say that like every player dreams of it while growing up, back then I had that dream. But, as I’ve said, for five years my blood, my body is for Kerala Blasters. It is not the same now. I’m happy playing for Blasters now. I want to win trophies for Kerala and for the national team as well. That’s my goal.”
The conversation then shifted to Indian-origin players who are currently plying their trade in Europe and Danny Batth in particular, who has captained the Wolverhampton Wanderers team to the top flight. About him, Jhingan said, “It shows that he has great quality and is a great player. By winning the Championship and winning promotion to the Premier League, he has shown how good a player he is.”
Naturally, we asked whether he would like to play alongside the Wolves skipper for India some day and the defender asserted, “Of course you want to play alongside good players. I’m not denying that. If we get to play alongside them I’ll be glad. But it’s not something I dream of.”
Elaborating on his views on the broader subject of the eligibility of these players to play for the Blue Tigers he carefully weighed his words and said, “Of course whatever makes the team strong, works for us. But, I want to ask, when we lost against Guam, where were all these names who want to play for us?
Sandesh Jhingan has been with Kerala Blasters since THEIR inception in 2014
“(It’s) just a normal thing that all these names want to play for us. Top lads, top players who have played at the highest level. I’ve full respect for them and if the government allows it, then it’s great. They’ll be a great addition to us. Let’s see how it goes.”
As he was in Mumbai, the journalist pointed out that the erstwhile Mumbai FC’s fan club had given him a moniker ‘Sasta Ramdev’ on account of his look which resembles the Yoga guru, to which he jovially reminisced and said, “I’m glad that they thought about me and made a chant for me.”
But it’s good and it doesn’t affect me much. If they want to make funny chants about me, I don’t mind as long as they are about me. I’m happy doing my job. So, it doesn’t affect me much. They are really funny. I was laughing and clapping and I said to them they are really funny.”
As the time for kickoff came closer, He was asked which club he was going to cheer for that evening and proudly said, “It’s Manchester United. I’ve been vocal about that. I’ve been a United fan for very long now.”
So, we asked whether he indulges in banter on this with Constantine, as the India tactician is a known Arsenal supporter. To this Jhingam dismissively said, “We can’t do banter with the head coach or else we will be out of the squad (laughs). There is no banter.”