Sandesh Jhingan: 5 things you should know about India's newly appointed captain for Hero Tri-Nation Football Series 2017
Kerala Blasters defender Sandesh Jhingan was yesterday named as the new Indian football team captain ahead of the Hero Tri-Nation Football Series that starts today. The burly defensive stalwart has benefited immensely from the advent of the ISL and is set to take the next big leap in his career by leading India against Mauritius later today.
The match at the Mumbai Football Arena will see Jhingan wear the captain's armband for India, marking himself as the third player in the past 12 months to get the privilege after Sunil Chhetri and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
Ahead of a big and historic day for Jhingan, here are the five things you should know about the latest Indian captain.
#1 He is the highest-scoring defender in the current Indian team
It is perhaps a surprise that Jhingan has scored the same number of international goals as his national teammate and striker Robin Singh. The 24-year-old has scored four international goals for India in 16 matches and is ripe for another strike later today against Mauritius. Scoring a goal while wearing the captain's armband will be a special incentive for the man from Chandigarh, hence Mauritius will be wary of his threat from set-pieces.
#2 He is the Indian player with the most number of ISL appearances
The advent of the Indian Super League has created new Indian football stars, the most prominent among whom is Jhingan. The central defender has been a major star for Kerala Blasters in the past three seasons of the ISL, leading the Men in Yellow to two runners-up finishes. Jhingan's 41 appearances in the yellow of Kerala Blasters make him the most featured Indian player in the history of the ISL.
#3 He is currently the highest-earning Indian defender
Jhingan will pocket a handsome amount of ?1.2 crores for his services in the ISL next season, making him one of the highest-earning Indian footballers and the highest-paid Indian defender. The new India captain was third in the list of the most expensive Indian players before last month's domestic draft and certainly deserves his place among the Indian elite, judging by his on-field performances.
#4 He has played at six different Indian clubs and is a Federation Cup winner
Jhingan started his senior career at United Sikkim in 2011 before moving to the newer pastures of Mumbai FC in 2013. He then hopped from Sporting Goa to DSK Shivajians and Bengaluru FC while representing Kerala Blasters in the ISL. The 24-year-old has won only one top-flight title in the form of last season's Federation Cup, which he won with Bengaluru FC.
#5 He also features in Stephen Constantine's debutant party
India head coach Stephen Constantine has given debuts to more than 30 players so far in his second stint at the helm of India, and Jhingan is also among those handed their first India chance by the well-traveled Englishman. Jhingan made his India debut in March 2015 against Nepal and helped his team keep a clean sheet in a 2-0 win. In a little more than two years, the 6ft 2in defender's stock has risen so dramatically that he will lead the Indian team later today.