4 iconic Indian sportspersons who switched from cricket in their childhood

The goalkeeper plies his trade with Bengaluru FC

We all know how Mahendra Singh Dhoni switched from being a goalkeeper in football and a national level badminton player to become one of the greatest cricketers ever. Yuzvendra Chahal also took up the cricket gear after representing India in chess.

However, there are a number of Indian sportspersons who took the opposite route and made their marks in the other Indian sports as well. Here are four Indian sportspeople whose first love was cricket but they made the country proud in another sport!

#1 Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

The star goalkeeper of Indian men's national football team became the first Indian footballer to play in a European top division league in May 2016. He is also the first Indian footballer to play UEFA Europa League after featuring against the Welsh side Connah's Quay Nomads FC in 2016.

However, what most people don't know about this Manchester United and Edwin van der Sar fan is that his father made him join a cricket academy before he picked up the keeper's gloves. The latter was a huge cricket fan and didn't want Gurpreet to pick up any other sport.

However, after a short stint with cricket, the shot-stopper realized that his love was only Football. He wasted no time in showing his football talent to his parents and his constant hard work made him rise up the levels.

Sandhu was named captain of the Indian national team for the friendly match against Puerto Rico on September 3 2016, a match India won 4-1. He is currently plying his trade with Bengaluru FC and playing an important role in India's AFC Asian Cup qualification run.

#2 Neeraj Chopra

Neeraj Chopra

The world junior record holder in javelin throw is a man of many talents. He started his career by playing cricket and volleyball but was made to shift to javelin by his uncle at the age of 13.

He burst on to the scene in 2012 where he broke the U16 national record to win gold at the 28th Junior Nationals in Lucknow. Two years later, he broke the U18 national mark as well. He subsequently broke all sorts of records in every tournament he participated. This included his gold medal at the South Asian Games in 2016.

However, the big moment came at the IAAF World U20 Championships, where he recorded a mammoth throw of 86.48m. His form continued at the Asian Athletics Championship in 2017, where he clinched the gold medal with his final throw.

One can only help but wonder how much the fielding skills he used in cricket worked for him in throwing the javelin too!

#3 Pullela Gopichand

Pullela Gopichand receiving the Dronacharya award
Pullela Gopichand receiving the Dronacharya award

Before the rise of Saina Nehwal, the one name that struck every Indian's mind when thinking about Badminton was Pullela Gopichand. He became the second Indian ever to win the All England Open Badminton Championship in 2001. He also won the silver and bronze medal at 1998 CWG in Men's team and Men's bronze respectively. The Indian badminton star was also awarded the Arjuna Award after his performance at the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

However, few people know that he wanted to become a cricketer in his youth. However, his elder brother felt his talent could be utilized somewhere else and thus encouraged him to pick up the badminton racquet. The decision proved fruitful for him as now after an illustrious playing career in the racquet sport, he is the Chief National Coach of Indian Badminton team and is considered to be the mastermind behind India's recent rise in the sport.

#4 Chuni Goswami

Chuni Goswami with Brazilian great Pele
Chuni Goswami with Brazilian great Pele

Subimal Goswami, who is famously known as Chuni Goswami, is one of the best Indian multi-sport athletes till date. He was an extremely talented footballer as well as a cricketer. The one-club man played his entire career with Mohun Bagan and captained the club for five seasons. He was also one of the anchors of the golden period of Indian football and went on to play for India in 50 international matches including in Olympics, Asian Games, Asia Cup and Merdeka Cup. He also captained the Blue Tigers to Asian Games glory in 1962.

His talent in cricket was no less. Even though he had to leave cricket a number of times to play football, he did not let it hamper his career in the Gentleman's game. Leading Bengal to a Ranji Trophy final and the numbers of 1592 runs and 47 wickets in 46 first class matches speak for his all-round prowess. Astonishingly, he also played field hockey and lawn tennis at professional levels at the same time.

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Edited by Shraishth Jain
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