‘My team needed me’: Sreejesh

With an ice pack strapped to his thigh through the game, his shoulder held up with tape and a blood clot on his right thumb that pained every time he shook hands, P. R. Sreejesh on Sunday refused to dwell on his injuries. His efforts helped India clinch the bronze medal with a thrilling win against Netherlands.

P. R. Sreejesh   -  K. Murali Kumar

On Saturday, India had missed out on a spot in the final after conceding a lone, soft goal early on that sneaked through goalkeeper P. R. Sreejesh's legs. The 27-year old had been hit hard on the thigh by a shot from Ramandeep Singh during warm-up and was uncertain to start before running back to take position.

On Sunday, Sreejesh brought off three clear, powerful goal-bound shots during the play-off for the bronze medal, then dived around to save three shots during the shootout and get India their first major world level medal in more than three decades. With an ice pack strapped to his thigh through the game, his shoulder held up with tape and a blood clot on his right thumb that pained every time he shook hands, the Kerala boy refused to dwell on his injuries.

“Happens in game, I don't care. All I thought about before the game was I had to be there, my team needed me and I can pop any number of painkillers to make sure I turned out today. I couldn't let the rest down at such a crucial moment, it would have affected them all – as much in terms of game as morale,” was all he said, shrugging off the injuries.

This was the second big tournament where a medal for India depended on Sreejesh in the shootouts and he delivered again – the last time was during the final of the Asian Games last year, against Pakistan, which helped India book a Rio berth. “I don't think anything during shootouts, just concentrate on the ball,” he said.