Obituary: Sadly, Sandeep could not 'deflect' death

Updated: Nov 24, 2018, 11:10 IST | Ashwin Ferro

MIchael was known for his classy deflections. Unfortunately, he could not 'deflect' death, and passed away at a Bangalore hospital yesterday after battling a neurological problem

Sandeep Michael
Sandeep Michael

Sandeep Michael, 33, played with a rather flashy headband in his younger days, mostly white or orange, as he led India to a gold medal in the 2003 Junior Asia Cup where he claimed the Most Promising Player award.

Michael was known for his classy deflections. Unfortunately, he could not 'deflect' death, and passed away at a Bangalore hospital yesterday after battling a neurological problem.

The flashy headgear notwithstanding, Michael's nature, both on and off the field, was quite the opposite - calm and soft spoken. His Air India teammates vouched for his class on the domestic and international circuit.

"I first played against Sandeep when he represented Indian Airlines. Later, when both teams merged and I became coach (2010-11), he was part of my AI team. He was a great team man, and a good finisher in the striking circle. He scored some sensational goals for AI as well India. He was a master at deflections. He was a good guy to have on the bench too as he provided some good inputs which I, as a coach, benefitted from," said Olympian Gavin Ferreira.

Michael's ex-captain at AI, and another top international forward, Sameer Dad said he enjoyed watching him from close quarters. "We played as forwards in the same team, and I was impressed by his presence of mind. Inside the D, he was brilliant - always at the right place at the right time to score a goal," said Dad.

Michael was part of the Indian side that played the 2009 Asia Cup and Sultan Azlan Shah tournaments in Malaysia, where the mercurial Dhanraj Pillay was team manager. Pillay recalled one of his trademark goals: "I can't recall the goalkeeper or team but I remember a ball was hit fiercely by an Indian player at the opposition goalkeeper inside the D. The ball hit the goalie's pads and stopped dead - right in front of the 'keeper. In an instant, before the goalie could react to clear it, Sandeep pounced on it and scored. That's the kind of a goal-poacher he was."

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