Veteran Indian men’s hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh completed 300 international appearances in the sport during India’s 5-0 triumph against Japan in the Asian Champions Trophy semi-final at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium in Chennai on Friday, August 11.
Sreejesh became only the second player from the current Indian side to accomplish 300 caps after former captain Manpreet Singh (341). The 37-year-old held the goalpost in the first and third quarters, adding another clean sheet in his glittering career.
Speaking in the press conference after India qualified for the final of the continental event, PR Sreejesh was asked about the emotions running through him during the game for his personal milestone. The senior Indian goalkeeper responded:
“I was only thinking about the three points. It was more important because, definitely, it’s a crucial match. You can’t think about your personal achievements. More focus was on how we want to perform."
The veteran goalkeeper added:
“Achieving something like that always motivates me and my teammates. When they are looking into their future they can see that players can achieve 300 caps. If they can perform in that age (late 30s), definitely they can bring their best performance throughout their career.”
"Goalkeepers are like wine, get better with the age" - PR Sreejesh
Sreejesh mentioned about his observation of matches when he served as the second-choice goalkeeper during his early days. Although it took him time to match up to the level of international standards in his initial years, with time everything got in its place and he has emerged as ‘The Great Wall of India’.
“There is one certain advantage of being a goalkeeper. When you are a youngster, you sit out and see enough matches. I used to observe a lot and learn many things while I was benched as the second-choice goalkeeper didn’t get enough matches at that time. Goalkeepers are like wine, get better with the age,” Sreejesh said.
The Kerala-born player further offered professional advice to the current batch of youngsters in his team in a bid to extend their careers.
“You have to be disciplined and focus on your preparations. Ups and down keep happening in everyone’s career. One needs to stay focused and passionately work hard. You shouldn’t be too excited in your highs nor you should be too sad during your lows. By being neutral you have chances for a long career,” he added.
After the final group game against Pakistan, Sreejesh said that he shall decide on his future after the Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou China later in the September-October period.