Dheeraj Singh is ready to learn the tricks of his trade from senior goalkeepers Gurpreet Singh and Amrinder Singh as he seeks to hone his skills to establish himself in the Indian national team.
Dheeraj is one of three goalkeepers in the India squad which is training in Doha, Qatar, ahead of the joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers beginning on June 3.
“It is an honour for me to get this opportunity at a young age. We have Gurpreet paji and Amrinder paji and I am looking forward to learning lots of things from them - both on and off the pitch,” Dheeraj told AIFF TV .
“I am very young and have lots of areas that I have to improve upon,” the 20-year-old said.
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The 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cupper and former Indian Arrows custodian, who received his first Blue Tigers call-up in November last year, recollected his welcome to the national team 'family' and explained how he has been learning from his seniors. “I still remember when I got the first call-up for the senior national team - they (Gurpreet and Amrinder) congratulated me and the team welcomed me like a family member,” Dheeraj, who is yet to earn his senior India cap, said.
“They keep motivating me, help me rectify my mistakes during training, and tell me what to do and what not to do. It is something very important and a huge learning for me.”
Dheeraj spoke about the strength and depth of the Blue Tigers’ goalkeeping department.
“Honestly speaking, we have very good goalkeepers in India - in the senior national team and the leagues. We have most clubs playing with Indian goalkeepers domestically. It is a very tough competition and a tough challenge for myself and for every goalkeeper as they (senior goalkeepers) have set benchmarks for us to try and reach. I am working for that chance and know that I have to use the coming opportunity in the best way.”
For a goalkeeper, it is important to play regularly to gain confidence, said Dheeraj.
“Training and playing matches are different. When you play games, you learn a lot of things and many unique situations come up in the matches. It’s a good experience for a goalkeeper to keep on playing matches consistently.”