At 21, having 91 international caps as a senior player is quite commendable but "he doesn't consider himself to be any star." Manpreet Singh – playing for Ranchi Rhinos in Hockey India League (HIL) – personifies simplicity despite being hailed as the future of Indian hockey by various national coaches.
"I think I still have to achieve a lot, learn a lot. There is no player in this world who does not commit mistakes in a match. Till the time I learn fully, I would not like to call myself a good player," the 21-year-old Jalandhar lad told dna a day after his team beat Mumbai Magicians to jump to third place in the HIL.
Manpreet also led the junior side to victory in the Sultan of Johor Cup. But he could not repeat the magic in World Cup where India finished 10th unfortunately. Does that result still hurt him? "Our team performed well. We lost just two matches in the entire World Cup. But not winning a medal was a big disappointment. A few mistakes cost us a medal," he admitted.
The World Cup reportedly was his last stint with the junior team and the midfielder said he will miss playing with the youngsters. "The last phase of my days captaining the junior side was so much fun. I had that experience with me to groom them," he said.
However, he felt the senior team will get a lot of good juniors in the next few years.
Manpreet's growth as a player can be testified from the fact that he was given the responsibility to lead Ranchi Rhinos in their first two games this season despite the presence of world-class players like Moritz Fuerste, Ashley Jackson and Barry Middleton, who is the captain of the England national team.
"To lead a side consisting of Fuerste, Jackson, Austin Smith and Middleton was an experience in itself. It was a lot of fun. I tried to emulate Fuerste's leadership skills by following the way he had led our team earlier. And I learnt quite a few tricks of captaincy by just watching these players," he said.
Having played under a host of foreign coaches – right from Michael Nobbs, Roelant Oltmans, Terry Walsh (senior team) to Gregg Clark (junior team and Ranchi Rhinos) – Manpreet doesn't agree that it confuses a player.
"They all think similarly. For example, India's speciality is considered to be counter-attack, so all the coaches have put that in front and worked to our strengths. There is not much difference between the coaches, they all believe in attacking hockey," he said.