Who is Sandeep Singh?
Sandeep Singh, also known by his nickname 'Flicker Singh', is an Indian hockey player and a former captain of the Indian national hockey team. He is considered to be one of the most dangerous drag-flickers in the world. Sandeep, who usually plays as a full back and is a corner specialist, can reportedly reach drag speeds of over 145 km/hr. As the captain, he has helped the national team win the 2009 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Apart from the national team, he has also played for several clubs in the Australian and European leagues, as well as the Hockey India League. After taking coaching lessons during his time playing in the Australian league, he is now eager to train Indian drag-flickers at the grass-root level. By his own admission, "skill wise and going by conversion rate" he is still the No.1 drag-flicker in India. He currently serves as a DSP for the Haryana Police.
Childhood & Early Life
Sandeep Singh was born on February 27, 1986 in Shahabad Markanda, a town in Kurukshetra, Haryana, India, to Gurcharan Singh Bhindar and Daljit Kaur Bhindar. He attended Khalsa College in Patiala, and later earned his B.A. degree from Kurukshetra University.
He has an older brother named Bikramjeet Singh who is also a hockey player and plays for Indian Oil. He was reportedly a talented drag flicker, but could not pursue his dreams due to injuries, and later trained his brother in the game.
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Sandeep Singh made his international debut during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Kuala Lumpur in January 2004. In August that year, he made his Olympic debut in the Summer Olympics held in Athens, Greece.
Also in 2004, he scored 16 goals at the Junior Asia Cup Hockey held in Pakistan and became the top scorer for the tournament. He scored two goals in the final against Pakistan in a 5-2 win that gave India the title for the first time.
He played at the Champions Trophy in Lahore in 2004 and in Chennai the following year, and scored three goals each time. He also scored three goals during the Indo-Pak Hockey Series in September-October 2005.
He was part of the Indian hockey team for the 2006 Commonwealth Games, held in Melbourne. He was the top goal scorer of the tournament with seven goals. In June 2006, he scored three goals at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Kuala Lumpur.
As he was on his way to join the national team to participate in the World Cup in Germany, he was hit by an accidental gunshot while abroad the Shatabadi Express on August 22, 2006. The pistol of a Railway Protection Force officer accidentally went off and the bullet went through three of his vital organs and immediately made the lower part of his body paralyzed.
It took him nearly two years to recover from that injury, which had left-him wheelchair-bound. However, he never stopped dreaming about returning to the field, and eventually made a successful comeback to the national team.
In the 2008 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament, he scored eight goals to clinch the 'Top Goal Scorer' award and helped India finish 2nd. He was named the captain of the national team in January 2009, following which he led the team to win the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup for the first time in 13 years.
In 2012, he helped India qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London after eight long years by scoring five goals, including a hat-trick, in the Olympic qualifiers tournament final against France to register an 8-1 win. He scored a total of 16 goals during the Olympic qualifiers tournament.
He was out of the national team in 2014, following which he showed his prowess in club hockey leagues and India and abroad. In early 2017, he accepted that age was not on his side for another national comeback anymore, and expressed his willingness to take up coaching.
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In 2013, as the Hockey India League was launched, Sandeep Singh became the fifth highest-paid marquee player bought by the Mumbai franchise, Mumbai Magicians. He was bought for USD 64,400. He proved his worth by scoring 11 goals from 12 appearances in the inaugural tournament, and became the top scorer for the event.
He was signed by English field hockey club, Havant Hockey Club, in 2014, which forced him to relocate to the UK. During the 2014-15 league season of Premier Division 1, he scored 24 goals for his team, becoming Havant's top scorer and the third top scorer overall.
Also in 2014, Punjab Warriors bought him for the second season of the Hockey India League and he stayed with the team for two seasons. During his time with the Punjab Hockey team, he scored a total of 22 goals.
In September 2015, he was bought by Ranchi Rays for USD 81,000, which was the second highest price in the auction after Akashdeep Singh's USD 84,000. He appeared for the team in the 2016 edition of the tournament, but sustained a back injury that crashed his HIL dreams.
While he did not participate in the 2017 edition of the league due to personal reasons, he played for St George Randwick Hockey Club in Australia and for Harvard Hockey Club in England. While his dream of a farewell national match is unlikely, he is determined to make a comeback to HIL in 2018.
Awards & Achievements
For his contributions to field hockey, Sandeep Singh was honored with the 'Arjuna Award' in 2010.
He led India to win the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2009 and became the 'Man of the Tournament' for scoring highest number of goals.
Personal Life & Legacy
Sandeep Singh became romantically involved with junior hockey player Harjinder Kaur during his teenage years. Both their families had relocated from the same village in Pakistan a few decades back, which is why they were close and accepted the relationship quickly.
By the time the two became engaged in August 2008, after years of courtship, both of them were playing on the international level. Harjinder reportedly left her hockey dreams behind on Sandeep's request after their marriage, and now takes care of their son Sehajdeep.
In November 2014, it was revealed that actress Chitrangada Singh was set to turn producer with a biopic on the ace drag-flicker's incredible comeback story. At the time, Sandeep had confirmed selling rights to make a film on his life to her, and also expressed that he wanted actor Ranbir Kapoor to portray him in the movie.
In July 2017, Punjabi actor-singer Diljit Dosanjh, known for his notable performances in the Bollywood films 'Udta Punjab' and 'Phillauri', was roped in to play the role of Sandeep Singh in the movie. The name of the movie was revealed to be 'Soorma', which also stars Tapsee Pannu and Angad Bedi as his wife and elder brother, and is set to release on July 13, 2018.
While Sandeep Singh is married to former hockey player Harjinder, his elder brother Monty is also married to a hockey player named Meenakshi. The four of them sometimes go to a small clearing near their house to play hockey together.