Inspired by Sandesh Jhingan's move to Croatian top division club HNK Sibenik, India's senior team footballers feel the centre-back will come back from his European sojourn as "an entirely different player" while possibly opening up new avenues. (More Football News)
Jhingan will become the first India international footballer to play in the Croatian top-tier league Prva HNL after completing a move from ATK Mohun Bagan to HNK Sibenik.
"Big congratulations Sandesh-paaji," quipped midfielder Anirudh Thapa.
"It's a big achievement for Indian football -- all the best. We understand that when you come back you will be an entirely different player, and it will all transpire on to us. Go out and play your game."
Wishes poured in from the Blue Tigers as national team as Jhingan was officially announced as an HNK Sibenik player, making him the first Indian defender to sign a professional contract in Europe.
Brandon Fernandes, who plays as an attacking midfielder, hoped the move opens up new avenues for India players seeking to play in Europe.
"This is a proud moment not just for Indian Football but the country overall," Brandon said.
"I wish you success and hope you do well. I also hope Sandesh's move opens up a lot of new avenues for aspiring and established Indian footballers."
The soft-spoken Mandar Rao Dessai added," "Give your heart out to everything like always when you play.
"You have made all of us very proud."
Defender Adil Khan lauded Jhingan for taking a brave decision.
"It's a great decision that you have taken.You inspire us all. The youth all over the country will look up to you, try to imitate you and follow your footsteps," Adil, who has partnered Jhingan as a central defender in the national team, opined.
Jhingan became the fifth Indian footballer (among men) to sign a professional contract in Europe after Bhaichung Bhutia, Subrata Paul, Sunil Chhetri and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. That apart, Chhetri was also contracted with MLS club Kansas City.
Founded on December 1, 1932, HNK Sibenik returned to the premier division last season under a new management.
The club finished sixth in the league, just two positions below qualification to European competitions.
The club is located in Sibenik, the Dalmatian region of Croatia, a city with breath-taking fortresses protecting it for centuries and a beautiful Cathedral of St James, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Blue Tigers are currently camping in Kolkata in preparation for the forthcoming international friendlies against Nepal in September.