Meeting your heroes is a memory to cherish for a lifetime and Sandesh Jhingan had his biggest fan boy moment as a 15-year old when he got to shake hands with former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia. Also Read - Playing in Front of Empty Stands Won't Affect my Performance: Sandesh Jhingan

“When I was 15 we played a tournament in Goa. That’s where I got to shake hands with Bhaichung bhai. I was like, ‘I am never going to wash my hand’,” a smiling Jhingan recalled in an episode of Let’s Football Live. Also Read - I'm Lucky to be a Part of This Indian Football Team: Sandesh Jhingan

In fact, it was with Bhutia’s United Sikkim Football Club that Jhingan first made his debut for the I-League in 2012, and he just can’t forget training and playing alongside Bhutia and Renedy Singh – another former India captain. Also Read - Mamata Banerjee to Laxmi Ratan Shukla, How Twitter Mourned The Death of Football Legend Chuni Goswami | SEE POSTS

“It was like a dream. These guys were my phone’s wallpapers! Till the other day, I was idolising them, watching them play. And then at USFC, I got to play with them. I was thrilled when I succeeded in the trials with United Sikkim FC. When I finally signed the contract papers it was just an amazing feeling,” Jhingan added.

“I am grateful to Bhaichung bhai for giving me the opportunity. Training every day with the likes of Bhaichung bhai and Renedy bhai, and just being around them was something out of a dream.”

Jhingan also paid rich tribute to Renedy highlighting the latter’s impact on his career and how the former midfielder helped Jhingan get a “great start.”

“Seeing Renedy bhai score those trademark free-kicks for fun in training was just incredible. He helped me a lot at the time and that added to my confidence. He would come to me often after training and motivate me,” he said. “Today if God asks me whether I want to change anything about the start of my career, I would not change a single thing.”

Currently, the defender is recovering from an injury and is at his home in Chandigarh, due to the nation-wide lockdown imposed because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“My rehabilitation period is on and I was originally supposed to join the team in March. I have a program in place — I do leg strengthening and balancing exercises, along with cardio to keep my endurance up and stay fit,” Jhingan explained.

“Rest of the day, I do household things such as washing utensils, reading books, writing and social media. It’s great to spend time with my family, speaking to my parents and reminiscing about childhood days with my brothers.”