Sandesh Jhingan is currently an Indian men's football team mainstay. He has even captained the national team but there was a time when he was struggling to even get into second and third division clubs in Kolkata.
Jhingan shared how the rejections in Kolkata made him realise that he had to "work harder" and how life unfolded for him after that.
"It was during the starting phase of my career. Back then I was looking for clubs and I appeared for quite a few trials at a number of clubs in Kolkata -- even in the second and third divisions. But I was rejected by all," Jhingan revealed in a chat with AIFF TV.
"That is when I realised that I had to work harder in order to realise my dream," he said. And that was when he was "picked up by United Sikkim Football Club."
"That really was a dream come true for me. A couple of months back, I had been rejected by so many clubs in Kolkata, and now I was joking with Renedy bhai and Bhaichung bhai," Sandesh shared. "We used to train under coach Stanley Rozario when we saw Renedy (Singh) bhai taking some freekicks," recalled Jhingan. "I just felt like going on my knees and kissing his feet. When I shook hands with Bhaichung bhai, I didn't feel like washing my hands afterwards."
It has been a long journey for Jhingan since then and now he relishes the chance of captaining the country.
"There's immense pressure when you're captaining a nation of 1.3 billion people," said Jhingan. "The eyes are on you, and the stakes are high. But these are situations that I tend to enjoy a lot. There is, after all, an immense honour in wearing the captain's armband."
"Not everybody gets the opportunity to lead a country of 1.3 billion. Perhaps when I look back, I could tell my kids about such experiences," he continued.
"But the leadership role does not just end with the guy wearing the armband, it's about all the players. You may be the captain, but you still have to do your job on the pitch."