Odisha FC goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh has been a revelation for the Indian Super League side this season, tallying a whopping 26 saves from the six matches that he has played so far.
Though it has taken the Kalinga Warriors nine games to register their first win in ISL 2020-21, lack of effort or dedication was never an issue. Being one of OFC’s most reliable performers this season, Arshdeep believes discipline and hard work always bear fruits.
“There are always better days if you are consistent, determined and working hard towards your goals and dreams,” the 23-year-old told SportsAdda in an exclusive interview.
“I think you can’t always have a perfect journey. Failures and difficult times make you a stronger and a better person,” he added.
Ups and downs are not something new for Arshdeep Singh. On June 19, 2019, during an AFC Cup match, the young custodian had a severe collision with Chennaiyin FC’s CK Vineeth where the striker’s knee struck Arshdeep’s face.
A Minerva Punjab FC player then, Arshdeep was rushed to the hospital with multiple fractures to his face and was consequently admitted to the ICU. However, he returned within six months and this time in the Indian top-tier football.
“I have been through some really tough times and it made me feel low. But I never gave up. I love challenges and every time I fall down; I get up and start working hard,” Arshdeep says.
“I love football, and nothing can stop me. If I fall seven times, I will get up the 8th time and start from scratch,” he adds.
A Manchester United fan, who idolises David de Gea, Arshdeep got the chance to learn from Spanish goalkeeper Francisco Dorronsoro during his first season with Odisha. And although his outings were limited to nine matches in the ISL 2019-20 season, Arshdeep learned a great deal.
Arshdeep stated, “Dorronsoro was very calm and composed on the field. Also, he was very good with his feet, and his reflexes were amazing even at the age of 34. Overall, he was quite experienced that helped me gain a lot of techniques.”
From the Indian football team’s no. 1 goalie Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to Mumbai City FC goalkeeper Amrinder Singh, some of the country's most promising custodians have come from Punjab. Chandigarh-born Arshdeep Singh is no different and he believes Punjab’s coaching style and craze about the game has been the reason.
“The coaching in Punjab is really strong, and we have some really amazing coaches who help in building a strong base. There’s a craze for football there and therefore people strive to make the most out of it.
“In my case, my father has been an influence as he was a coach and professional player as well.”
The same pedigree has been quite evident in Arshdeep Singh as well, especially during Odisha FC’s clash against FC Goa on December 12, 2020, at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim.
Standing between the sticks, Arshdeep showed his incredible reflexes as he saved eight of the nine shots that the Gaurs had attempted on target.
“I won’t say I am gifted. As goalkeepers, we do a lot of training and hard work every single day which helps us polish ourselves and rest is up to god. There’s a slight chance of luck as well.”
With the Indian Super League being played behind closed doors in Goa this season, the stands have been empty, and Arshdeep has missed that extra push this season.
The 24-year-old added, “The energy that you feel when the fans are around and when they cheer you seems to be missing. I miss that part. Fans’ presence is important because it boosts the players and helps them perform even better."
With momentum firmly on their side following a 4-2 drubbing of Kerala Blasters, Odisha FC will next face Chennaiyin FC on Sunday, January 10, and Arshdeep is expected to play a crucial role yet again.
Written by: Subhayan Dutta
Feature Image Courtesy: Odisha FC