Dheeraj Singh of FC Goa says being called for the Indian football team camp, which gave him an opportunity to train with the country’s top goalkeepers, acted as huge motivation prior to his brilliant showing for FC Goa in the AFC Champions League. He was called up for national camp two months ago.
The 20-year-old goalkeeper, who has been twice named in the Champions League’s team of the week, played a big part in helping FC Goa secure a third-place finish in Group E.
Speaking to Media, Dheeraj said, “I got the national team call-up right after the ISL. It gave me the opportunity to travel with the senior team to the UAE. It was a big motivation for me to train with Gurpreet (Singh Sandhu) paaji and Amrinder (Singh) paaji.
“I was so motivated at that point that I reported straight to Goa after we came back,” he added.
“Getting into the national team had a big impact on my confidence. Our coach also gave us a lot of confidence, taking the pressure off from our shoulders. He just told us to go out there and play our normal game, and that’s what we did,” added Dheeraj.
FC Goa became India’s first-ever representative in the Champions League group stage, Dheeraj and his teammates had their task cut out against some of Asia’s best. The team includes like 2020 Champions League runners-up Persepolis FC (Iran), Al Wahda FC (UAE), and Al Rayyan SC (Qatar).
However, the young goalkeeper got two clean sheets to his name, making 19 saves from his five appearances.
Dheeraj received compliments from opposition coaches, including the likes of French World Cup winner Laurent Blanc, who was in charge of Al Rayyan.