Sandeep Singh played a pivotal role in ensuring India earned an Olympic berth by defeating France in devastating fashion on Sunday. The hosts won 8-1 with fiveÂ strikes from Sandeep's stick, a perfect start to his birthday which is on Monday.
Scoring though, is not a skill Sandeep discovered on an electrical Sunday night at the National Stadium. He has been the primary drag-flicker for India and has been a pivotal part of India's attacking line-up for years.
The 26-year-old made his debut in January 2004, in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (Kuala Lumpur). The drag-flicker shone to stardom once he began clocking strikes at above 140 kmph and many considered him as one of the best that India has produced, ever. He was even compared to Soahil Abbas of Pakistan, known widely as the most dreaded penalty corner specialist in the world.
Sandeep however is also known for his genial nature, off the field. A Deputy Superintendent in Haryana Police, Sandeep's elder brother Bikramjeet also plays hockey.
It is perhaps part skill and part passion since childhood that helped Sandeep develop his game and he was eventually appointed skipper of the national team in 2009 before Rajpal Singh took over in 2010.
Despite a miniscule list of controversies that have threatened him and an ugly incident in 2006 when he was seriously injured in an accidental gun-shot on a train, Sandeep has and continues to propel India's dreams of reviving it's national sport and announcing the team's prowess on international arenas.