Indian men's hockey team captain Manpreet Singh has revealed that he is called Aloo [Potato] by his teammates due to his ability to play in any position on the field.
Manpreet Singh spoke eloquently about his journey as a hockey player in an exclusive interaction with Indranil Basu on Sportskeeda Live.
On being asked what his reaction was when he got to know that he had been made the captain of the Indian hockey team in 2017, Manpreet Singh replied that it was a matter of great pride as he had fulfilled the dream of his late father.
"I was such a proud moment for me and it was my father's dream as well that I become the captain."
Manpreet Singh revealed that his mother could not believe it when he informed her that he had been made the captain as there were other established players in the team, and stated that she was not being able to control her tears of joy.
"When I called my mom after being made captain, she was shocked and asked me if I was serious. She was surprised because there were other senior players in the team as well. She was so happy and crying, she was very proud of me and happy that she had let me play."
The Arjuna awardee added that standing on the pitch while the national anthem is being played instils a sense of drive in him to perform to the best of his abilities for the nation.
"Whenever I wear the national jersey, especially during the national anthem, I feel that that there is no bigger moment than that. It gives me a lot of energy to face the flag during the national anthem because I have worked so hard for that moment and I need to do something for the nation. I cannot let my flag down."
Manpreet Singh on his role in the Indian team
Manpreet Singh was further asked about his role in the Indian team as a half-back and the amount of running involved while playing in that position. The 28-year-old responded that while his primary role is that of a central midfielder, he is proficient enough to play in any position based on the requirements of the team.
"Yes, central midfielder. You should be a player who can play in any position. So, I prepared myself so that I can play in any position that the coach wants. When I wanted to play for the country, I played in all positions from defence to attack. Because when the team is selected, they should think that Manpreet is an all-rounder and can play anywhere. So that will benefit the team."
On a lighter note, Manpreet Singh revealed that his teammates refer to him as 'potato' as he can blend himself in any position on the hockey field, while adding that P.R. Sreejesh keeps him away from goalkeeping so that the latter's place in the Indian team is not at risk.
"That is why people call me Aloo in the team. Because you can put it in any vegetable. Sreejesh tells at times that I should not wear his pads, not to take away his livelihood."
Manpreet Singh signed off by stating that a player should be comfortable playing in any position considering the fast pace of modern hockey and the chances of a critical player not being available due to an injury or a suspension due to a card shown to him.
"Because I feel that I should be there in whichever position the team needs me. At times, a player is injured or off the field and we have to change our position in a fraction of a second when someone gets a card. You have to take a quick decision at that time. If you don't know about that position, you will struggle. That is why I love to learn every position."
Manpreet Singh is one of the pillars of the Indian hockey team that would be hoping to bag their first Olympic medal since 1980 at the Tokyo Olympics 2021. For his phenomenal performances as the captain of the Indian hockey team, the midfielder was chosen as the '2019 FIH Men's Player of the Year'.
Published 07 Aug 2020, 13:18 IST