In the recent two-legged FIH Pro League tie between India and Netherlands, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh pulled off impressive performances putting to bed the criticism of his falling effectiveness.
There were calls for a replacement for the 32-year-old with Tokyo Olympics now just months away. But in the second match against the Netherlands on Sunday in Bhubaneswar, as the contest headed into shootouts, Sreejesh made three excellent saves to help India emerge victorious.
Sreejesh says he’s happy to have got ‘one over the line.’ “It’s like a give and take policy in shootouts,” Sreejesh was quoted as saying by The Times of India. “As much as you save, your fellow players have to score as well. My performance has been consistent in shootouts. However, some results have not gone in our favour not just because I failed to make those saves. But it was also because some of our players couldn’t convert as well. So, I am glad to get this one over the line.”
Sreejesh said, with time, he has become more mature as the anxiety that comes after conceding a goal is something which he has learnt to control. “Once you concede a goal, the next ball comes to you perhaps after 10-12 minutes and you become anxious. In those minutes, the goalkeeper tends to think more on the goal that has been scored and ends up conceding more. It happens to almost all young goalkeepers and it has happened to me as well. But once you mature, you learn to forget the goal you have conceded and focus on stopping the next shot,” he said.
Back to his best, Sreejesh is now fully focused on the Tokyo Olympics but says should he fell not good enough, he’ll retire. “My sole focus is on the Olympics. Right now, I am enjoying my game and giving it my best. The moment I feel I am not at my best, I will walk away from the game,” he said.