Indian defender Sandesh Jhingan joins Croatian top-tier club HNK Sibenik
- Jhingan will be the first Indian to play in the top-flight of Croatian football
- Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu became the first Indian to play for a top-division European club in 2014
- "I think I am at a stage of my career where I really want to test myself in the highest-level possible," Jhingan said
Indian international footballer Sandesh Jhingan has completed his transfer from ATK Mohun Bagan to HNK Sibenik in Croatia’s top-tier league Prva HNL. The 28-year-old central defender will be the first Indian to play in the top-flight of Croatian football and the latest to ply his trade in Europe.
Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu became the first Indian to play for a top-division European club in 2014, when he signed for Norwegian club Stabaek.
Jhingan was named India’s footballer of the year in a ceremony last month. He has already travelled to Croatia and watched his new team’s home win against Hrvatski Dragovoljac on Sunday.
"We expect good things from him as we have followed him on different platforms where we were able to see his past performances," PTI quoted Francisco Cardona, CEO of HNK Sibenik as saying.
"Although we know the adaptation process might take him a few weeks, we are confident that with his quality and leadership, he will become an important member of the team.
"He made a very good impression on the staff and fans of the club when he was watching the last home game from the stands. He showed passion and energy for the team," Cardona added.
Jhingan was excited to have the opportunity to move to HNK Sibenik in the Prva HNL in Croatia.
"I think I am at a stage of my career where I really want to test myself in the highest-level possible and I think this is the perfect platform for me. As I have said, it has been my desire to play in Europe and I have taken up this challenge upon myself," the top defender said.
"A big thank you to the head coach Mario Rosas and the owners and management for giving me the opportunity to come here. I cannot wait to get going and look forward to giving 100 percent at every given opportunity," Jhingan added.
Meanwhile, the club’s Spanish coach Mario Rosas lauded Jhingan’s move out of his comfort zone.
"We are very happy that Sandesh is with us. We know he will help us achieve the goals that we have set for ourselves during the season. His stint here will help him grow as a player and person,” he said.
"We hope that he will continue to be an example for Indian footballers. He has demonstrated his ambition and competitiveness by wanting to get out of his comfort zone and show what Indian footballers are capable of," said Rosas.