Men's Hockey Pro League 2020: 3 goalkeepers to look out for
The inaugural season of the FIH Pro League recorded an average of over 5 goals per match with the strikers running riot - but, if it had not been for some insane acrobatics from the men under the bar, a lot more balls could have landed up under the netting.
The men who don the conspicuous paraphernalia while shielding their citadel have their faces concealed, for the most part, while on the pitch - but beneath the shiny helmets lie some of the most intense, colourful, and entertaining characters in the world of hockey.
Some of the men under the bar seem to have been around forever and have, thus, become synonymous with the names of their respective sides - imagine the Los Leones without 40-year-old Juan Manuel Vivaldi who was part of Argentina's 2004 Athens Olympics squad.
It has been quite a journey for Vivaldi - and the South Americans - who rose from an 11th place finish at Athens to end up as the Olympic champions in 2016, and the veteran goalie continues to dazzle as he did in the inaugural season of the Pro League.
From Belgium's Vincent Vanasch who saw his side through the pulsating shootout of the World Cup final, to Pirmin Blaak whose towering frame has, for long, secured the Dutch goal, the seemingly-irreplaceable goalkeepers have been instrumental in charting the course for their respective sides.
We take a look at three custodians who possess the ability to singlehandedly influence the outcome of matches with their mobility, nimbleness, and resolute saves in the upcoming FIH Men's Pro League 2020.
#3 PR Sreejesh
The booming voice is quite enough to propel his defenders into a heightened state of vigilance. The characteristic snarl and the shake of the head when the helmet is yanked off has now become a familiar sight whenever the Indian men take the field - just as the numerous funny antics of India's Great Wall.
PR Sreejesh is today one of the most recognizable faces in world hockey - and quite a character on and off the pitch.
The accolades have been many - with the most recent being the Goalkeeper of the Tournament at the 2018 Champions Trophy where he stood like a rock against Belgium and the Netherlands to carry his side to the final.
Despite the vital shootout losses of the Champions Trophy finals of 2016 and 2018 - and the tragic Asian Games semifinal defeat against Malaysia - the stalwart from Kerala continues to be vital to India's fortunes.
Sreejesh continues to inspire - and now acts as a friend, philosopher, and guide for young goalkeepers Krishan Pathak and Suraj Karkera as the Indians get set to embark on a momentous journey in 2020.