Sandesh Jhingan hasn’t taken long to settle in at ATK Mohun Bagan after six seasons at Kerala Blasters. A year out of action due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear didn’t get him feeling downbeat, says Jhingan in this exclusive interview. Ahead of Wednesday’s game against FC Goa in the Indian Super League (ISL), the 27-year-old India central defender also spoke of his relationship with coach Antonio Lopez Habas and his career among other things.
How has it been working with Antonio Lopez Habas? And how did playing and winning your first Kolkata derby feel like?
Signing for ATK Mohun Bagan happened very, very quickly. I was speaking to other clubs as well, but then the talk which I had with the gaffer convinced me. Because he has seen me from the first season, he knows my game and knows where I can improve. Since I joined, I am learning a lot and getting better. They have kept the same squad, so there’s a lot of unity. Everyone’s been warm and friendly, so I have enjoyed here a lot.
For me, I love being part of big games (like the Kolkata derby). Not because I am a glory-seeker but I like games that are very intense, where expectations are very high. I like to be in stressed positions.
How difficult was it to come back from the long injury lay-off?
It’s a misconception about injuries and rehabs. I would be more upset if I had a neuro problem, or had a car crash and lost some organ, or if I had to pray for my next meal, or if I were homeless. There are more hard things in life. This injury is nothing compared to real hardship. I have always been fortunate in life. When this ACL (tear) happened, I felt bad about missing out on the World Cup qualifiers and I felt bad about my parents. But for me, I never had a dark moment.