Kerala Blasters brought Sandesh Jhingan to the limelight

Goal.com

Most footballers who are looking to make it big need two things to go right early on in their career - they require proper education at the academy level and once they graduate, they need a club to be their support system and trust them to perform. 

For 26-year-old Chandigarh-born defender Sandesh Jhingan, Indian Super League (ISL) club Kerala Blasters turned out to be that huge support pillar. 

After graduating from the St. Stephen's Academy, the young defender made his way into the first team of the then I-League 2nd division club United Sikkim and played a part in earning the club promotion to the I-League. 

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His talent captured the eyes of many clubs and there were rumours about a potential move abroad but the footballer in Jhingan was still raw. He moved to Mumbai FC and played a few games there before the big call arrived. 

SJ GFX
SJ GFX

Kerala Blasters brought Jhingan on board for the first edition of ISL from the domestic Player Draft in 2014. The youngster who impressed with his spells in I-League was the team's second pick after Mehtab Hossain. 

But it was not the selection that mattered. It was only a good first step. Jhingan played 14 matches in his first season with Blasters, clocked over 1200 minutes, recorded the highest number of tackles by a Kerala Blasters player and registered two assists in his name despite playing as a defender (Only Iain Hume had more assists!).

Blasters' faith bore fruit as the player picked up the Emerging Player of the Year gong. In a parallel world, he would have spent most of the season warming the bench because of his inexperience.

Jhingan was helped immensely by the club and also the large fanbase they had. The fans loved him and supported right from the start. Any footballer would have craved to be in his position. 

Sandesh Jhingan Kerala Blasters
Sandesh Jhingan Kerala Blasters

And now, they have mutually parted ways with the two parties looking to go in a different direction. The player had two more seasons left on his contract. The club could have held out for a transfer fee or could have denied him the move. Or the player too could have not accepted a pay cut. However, the Kochi-based club and the player have opted to go separate ways amicably. 

Kerala Blasters deserves a lot of credit for the role they played in giving India a fine national team player. They picked him up from the player draft (twice!) and gave him a stage to perform. 

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