Gurpreet Singh Sandhu celebrates historic European debut
India’s national goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has achieved a historic feat, becoming the first Indian to feature in a top-tier league match in Europe.
The 24-year-old kept a clean sheet for Norwegian side Stabaek FC in his first Tippeligaen (Premier League) start in a 5-0 away triumph over IK Start last Sunday (May 29).
Sandhu, who signed for Stabaek in 2014, has not played in the Tippeligaen until this match though he has already featured in five matches in the Norwegian Cup.
He has thus far played second fiddle to Ivorian goalkeeper Sayouba Mande, who is the first choice Stabaek FC goalkeeper.
The Punjab lad took to Twitter to share his excitement after the match. “Proud to become the First Indian ever to start in a Top Division League game in Europe!!!!,” Sandhu tweeted.
“Facing @ikstart tonight before the International break kicks in, need to finish on a good note @Stabaek#Tippeligaen.”
In many parts of Europe, league matches are over by this time of the year but the Norwegian top-tier league is held from March to November due to climatic reasons.
Sandhu has been the number one goalkeeper in the Indian team since Stephen Constantine took over last year, with the English coach preferring him to veteran Subrata Paul.
Bengal footballer Mohammed Salim played for Scottish top-tier side Celtic FC in 1936, but records about his two-month spell in the UK are sketchy.
Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia played for English third division side Bury FC in 1999-2000, and current national skipper Sunil Chhetri played for the ‘B’ team of Sporting Lisbon in 2012.