Reborn & rejuvenated: Sandeep Singh is back to doing what he does the best

He is a man of grime, guts and glory. A man who has risen like a phoenix! A man who not only fought death but also went on to stand on his feet and make his way back into Team India through sheer determination, fighting all odds coming in his way. 

That’s Sandeep Singh—the ace drag flicker—whose world which revolved round hockey came crashing down when he was shot accidentally by a RPF ASI in August 2006. And after over five-and-a-half years, the iron-hearted sardar is again doing what he does the best — score for his country through his ravaging drag flicks which has become scourge for the opponents.

Sandeep is brimming with confidence all over again. He not only seems to have fully recovered from the injury, trauma and agony, the Shahbad lad has become the backbone of the team and his 16 goals that steered India into the London Olympics is a testimony to the fact.

But then Sandep’s career has been full of ups and downs. It wasn’t just the fatal accident which threatened to cut short his booming career on the turf, the Shahbad lad hasn't been spared by controversies as he has been reprimanded and even banned for 'indiscipline' on a few occasions in the past. 

The latest on the list was the two-year ban which he incurred after he along with Sardar Singh left the camp in Bangalore in August 2011 to attend the World Series Hockey (vehemently opposed by Hockey India) press conference without informing the team management. But sanity prevailed and after a written apology, Hockey India revoked the ban on two players – one of who (Sandeep) is the highest scorer and one (Sardar) the best player of the just-concluded Hockey Olympic qualifiers.

Earlier, after having a reasonably satisfactory 2010 where India (Sandeep being a part of the team) won the silver in Commonwealth Games and a bronze medal in the Asian Games, the drag-flicker lost favours with the selectors in 2011 and was dropped from the team touring Malaysia for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Aggrieved, he didn’t attend the camp and went off to play in the Belgian professional league. It was only after a written apology that Hockey India allowed him to join the national camp for the Asia Cup in China in June.

Sandeep, who was a surprise selection for the Athens Olympics in 2004 after Jugraj Singh -- the then super drag flicker met with a fatal accident ruling him out of action for long— has come a long way since then. In and out of the team for various reasons, Sandeep missed the bus to the Olympic qualifiers in Chile four years ago when India failed to make it to the Olympics (Beijing) for the first time in Olympic history. However, with superlative performance from the lanky sardar and his teammates have somehow put a soothing balm on the agony and pain that the Indian hockey fans had been carrying since the last four years and with Delhi now conquered, all eyes are set on the London Olympics.

"It is a very big win for all of us. We wanted it so badly after what happened four years ago. Before the tournament I said that my target is 12 goals, I got 16 goals in the end and I am very happy. Now we have turned that black day of 2008 into white today. Our next target is Olympics," says the Haryana lad.

Indian Sports News