The Indian connection in Norway: Harmeet Singh
Far away from the ‘land of the five rivers’ that is Punjab, a 20 year old boy from ethnic Punjabi background born and bred in the freezy territories of Oslo, is rising to the very perch of Norwegian football in the picturesque lands of the Valerenga neighborhood of Oslo. Harmeet Singh is the name and being a central midfielder is his trade. While Rosenborg still exert their dominant reputation on Norwegian football and while Ole Solskjaer’s Molde has actually run away with the Tippeligaen, Norway’s premier club competition, this Norwegian footballer has been creating waves not just across his ‘homeland’ but is also on the scouting agendas of some of the ‘bigger’ clubs in Europe.
Singh, alongside fellow countryman Mohammed Fellah and Havard Nielsen, have established themselves as the shining light of a club that for so long has been consigned into the shadows of Rosenborg in Norway, but a club that has now started to challenge for greater honours, Valerenga with Harmeet Singh in full flow finished 2nd in 2010 and are currently sixth with a game in hand, winning which they’d rise to 2nd again in the incumbent Tippeligaen season of 2011.
And it isn’t difficult to understand the hype around the 20 year old prodigy either, he’s quick and comfortable on the ball. Though not particularly tall, strong or intimidating in his presence, he nevertheless plays with a furious intensity, willing to go into challenges and tackles should there be a need for one. But his true assets are in the other facet of football, the attacking side of things. Him along with Fellah have for a couple of years now carried the offensive duties at Valerenga and with utmost brilliance too. He is blessed with quick feet, can dribble well and has a fantastic vision for a pass, long or short, and it is this comfort of his at distribution of the ball in the centre of the pitch that has drawn along ravenous glances from bigger clubs around Europe.
That aside, the facet of the game at the moment that he is the strongest at is his shooting which is a valuable tool for any modern midfielder and for all his qualities he has already been named in Goal.com’s Hot-100 young players to look out for. And, not to forget, Singh is still improving at a rapid rate, and at just twenty years of age, has a long career ahead of him. All that he needs to do is to keep strutting his stuff and an offer from one of Europe’s elite won’t be too far off.
We saw two videos of Valerenga and knew what the players [Mohammed] Fellah and [Harmeet] Singh are capable of. We thought the Norwegian team just hit long passes, but they played well.
- Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola on Harmeet Singh and Mohammed Fellah after their friendly match in July 2010.
Praise such as that coming from a midfielder of huge quality in his own days, Pep Guardiola, is indeed something to saviour for this Norwegian of Indian origin, but at the same time he faces a tall order if he is to stay on the European elite clubs’ and indeed Guardiola’s radar even though he is definitely a young talent worth taking note of at this stage. There is still considerable interest in Harmeet and when he moves would be defined by his club as much as by him, given how loyal he’s been to them ever since joining up Valerenga as a twelve year old. But be rest assured, a move would happen sooner rather than later to a bigger club within the realms of Europe.
Internationally, Harmeet Singh has played through the hierarchy of all youth football teams of Norway, right from the Under-15′s to the Under- 19′s and now the Under-21′s where he currently is one of the most capped members. Calls have been made by both the fans and the media for him to be given a full cap too, and given his performances in the recent past, the 20-year-old is sure to earn a call-up to Egil Olsen’s senior side in the near future.
As for the Indian perspective to it all, he is arguably the best player of Indian origin to have ever played football in Europe and it would probably a good thing for us all in India to have a player to connect to in one of the Europe’s best leagues whenever he makes the jump, something that has been scarce for the football followers in the subcontinent. And it is in this respect that he’s different to Michael Chopra, another footballer of ethnic Indian background, Harmeet Singh unlike Chopra comes from a family that still relates to its origins in Ludhiana, Punjab and the player himself can apparently speak atleast traces of Punjabi & his family are practicing Sikhs.
Not that he would ever play for India internationally given India’s outdated nationality laws under which no person can hold dual nationalities or passports, yet he could well be a channel for Indian’s to see a little bit of themselves in the transcendental world of European football. Not bad is it, to see a player who could do this(refer to the video below) in one of Europe’s best leagues and being able to identify with him or proudly wearing his numbered shirt on the streets?
Author’s Note: The article is a piece of my mind trying to pull a perspective that the said player could have an impact on Indian football or the football fans in general in India. For more of my ramblings, you could follow my blog.