Know Your U16 stars: Happy will be ‘Happiest to replicate Sandesh-Paaji’

Happy

Born in the state of Punjab, there is little that differentiates Harpreet Singh from a typical ‘Punjabi.’ His nickname – Happy and the ever-glowing smile on his face adds more to the charm of a young footballer from the State that has produced National Team players over the years.

But ‘Happy’ was somewhat of a rebel for Football when he was young. “I cried a lot,” he smiles and recollects. “I use to cry a lot when my father forced me to go to school but at that time all I wanted to play was Football.”

“Football has been my first love since I was a child and I was scolded a lot many times for going to play instead of studying” But gradually times changed. “My parents understood my desire for the sport and when I got selected for the Indian team, they cried with joy and were happy that their son is representing the Country.”

The state of Punjab has been a football nursery over the years and with the Indian U-16 National Team having more than five ‘Punjabi-s’ in the squad, the vigour is easily identifiable. No wonder Harpreet’s favourite player is Sandesh Jhingan, who plays in the same position as he does – defence.

“Sandesh paaji is my role model. In fact, he is the role model of many in the team and I am inspired by the way he plays on the field — Fearless. That is how I want to play. I will be happiest if I can grow up to be a player like him.”

Perhaps playing fearless will come in handy as the Indian U-16s gear up for the AFC U-16 Championship Malaysia 2018 in an attempt to make history and qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Peru 2019. But Harpreet does not want to stop there. “I want to win the AFC U-16 Championship. We want to create history and become the first team to qualify (for the FIFA U17 World Cup) and become Champions.”

“It will certainly be a hard feat to achieve but we have been training harder and have belief in our system that we can accomplish this” The defender notched up a goal in a 3-0 win over Yemen and stays confident that “if the ball comes to me from a corner kick scenario, I will try my best to score”

“As a defender my first job is to defend, but scoring is important for me as well.”

– Courtesy AIFF media

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