New Delhi March 3 : Former captain and ace midfielder Manpreet Singh, on Saturday admitted that he never imagined that he would become a crucial cog in the Indian Hockey Team, let alone achieve 350 appearances for India. 

He reached the milestone when India took on Spain in their first match of the FIH Hockey Pro League 2023/24 at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar on 10th February.

Manpreet recalled his top 5 most memorable moments in his career so far, and undoubtedly, at the top of the pile was winning the Bronze medal at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where India beat Germany 5-4. 

“It was an unbelievable feeling to win the Bronze medal at the Olympics; that had always been my dream since I started playing for the national team. I felt immensely proud when we finally clinched an Olympic medal in hockey after 41 years. It is a significant achievement and will always remain close to my heart,” said the midfielder.

According to him his second most memorable moment was winning the Gold medal in the 17th Asian Games in 2014 held in Korea. India claimed victory after beating Pakistan 4 - 2 in shootouts, as regulation time ended with both teams tied at 1-1.

“That was my first major Gold Medal with the team and winning it as a junior player ignited the fire in my belly. The feeling of winning the Gold is incomparable, and I have been chasing it ever since,” he said

The former captain's third most memorable moment was winning the Silver medal at the XX Commonwealth Games 2014 held in Glasgow, Scotland. India missed out on the Gold medal as they lost 0-4 to Australia in the Final.

“The previous major event was the XX Commonwealth Games 2014, where we won the Silver medal. I feel that these initial successful events boosted my confidence and propelled me further in my career. Winning two consecutive medals, especially as a junior in the team, was a really big thing for me at that moment,” the 31-year-old said.

Next on his list is the Men's Asia Cup 2017 held in Bangladesh where India beat Malaysia by 2-1 in the Final to claim the Gold medal.

“This tournament is also close to my heart because it was the first medal the team won with me as the Captain. It was a testament to all the work I had put in over the years. Sharing my experience with the youngsters and leading the team to victory instilled a deep sense of achievement and satisfaction in me,” 

Manpreet has scored 44 goals in his career so far, but he values his goal against Japan in the Final of the Asian Games Hangzhou 2022 at the top of the list. 

After his goal, India went on to win 5-1 over Japan, earning a direct qualification for the Paris Olympics.

“I remember, the Japanese keeper swatted away a shot on goal and the ball fell to me at the edge of the shooting circle, I took a touch to get it out of my feet and let loose a reverse tomahawk to beat the keeper. 

Before the Asian Games, I felt I wasn’t having the impact I knew I could but my performances kept improving and to score like that, in the Final, put my mind at ease,” Manpreet added.

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