Hockey star Simranjeet's success mantra: No advice from family members

Updated: 04 December, 2018 18:53 IST | Ashwin Ferro | Bhubaneswar

Despite hailing from a hockey family, India's leading goal-scorer in the ongoing World Cup doesn't take any advice from home as it may confuse him

Simranjeet Singh during India's World Cup match against Belgium at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday
Simranjeet Singh during India's World Cup match against Belgium at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday

When young India forward Simranjeet Singh, 22, made the leap from the Junior India World Cup-winning squad for the senior team at the four-nation invitation tournament in New Zealand earlier this year, little did he know that he'd be a World Cup hero with the senior team by year-end. With three goals (two against South Africa and one against Belgium) in two league matches so far, Simranjeet is the tournament's leading goal-scorer alongwith the Netherlands' Jeroen Hertzberger and Argentina's Agustin Mazzilli.

Change in fortunes
More importantly, his crucial link-man role (attacking midfielder who plays just behind the three-man forwardline) saw India's fortunes turn around in the 2-2 draw against Belgium on Sunday. With original link-man Akashdeep Singh struggling, India coach Harendra Singh placed the responsibility on Simranjeet's shoulders, and the result was there for all to see.

India scored two goals within 10 minutes of each other (39th and 47th minutes) to go into a 2-1 lead. The young forward did fumble a couple of times inside the Belgian striking circle, but one must remember that credit for the creation of that space inside the circle must also go to him in the first place.

'Glad to deliver v Belgium'
"During training, I have essayed the link-man's role a number of times, but I'm glad that I could deliver against the Belgians because they are a tough outfit and hardly give you any space to move," Simranjeet told mid-day here yesterday.

The stocky forward hails from Chahal Kalan village in Gurdaspur district and has honed his skills at the Surjit Singh Hockey Academy in Punjab. He has a host of hockey players in his family. Chief among them being father Iqbal Singh, who played for the district, uncle Rashpal Singh who represented the state and cousin Gurjant Singh, 23, who played the 2016 Junior World Cup and 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games alongside him.

So has family advice been flooding while he plays his life's most important competition? "Not at all," was the quick reply. "My family members feel that if all of them start advising me then I will be confused and not know what to do. Even I believe that it will be a case of too much information. They have told me to only listen to one person — our coach [Harendra] – and I agree with them," said Simranjeet, going on to praise his teammates for their resurgence in the Belgium clash.

"Though we didn't start the match well and conceded an early goal [eighth minute], our defence did brilliantly to hold them for the first two quarters after which we began our attacking hockey," said Simranjeet who was also part of India's silver medal-winning FIH Champions Trophy squad in Breda, The Netherlands, this July.

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First Published: 04 December, 2018 17:17 IST

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