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Gurpreet after becoming the first Indian to play in European top division: – It's a great feeling

Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (24) got his top division debut for Stabæk yesterday, in the 5-0 win against IK Start. Now he hopes to inspire more Indians to take the step into European football.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

CLEAN SHEET: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu held a clean sheet during his top division debut.

Foto: Grøtt, Vegard Wivestad / NTB scanpix

– It's a great feeling for me, but Indian football has a long way to go as we only have one player in Europe, says Singh, the day after his league debut for Stabæk.

– Back home there's two leagues, and it's not a good situation. I think the federation is working on it, to get a league system like the rest of the world.

The Indian international joined Stabæk in 2014, and before yesterdays game he had only made apperances in the cup.

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After making his debut, the 24-year-old was trending on Twitter in Mumbai and journalists back in India contacted him.

He is amazed by all the attention he has received from India.

– Football is not that big in India, but the response from people back home was great.

Before joining Stabæk, Singh played for East Bengal in India and a series of coincidences led to a transfer to the Norwegian league.

– It's a long story, but one of my contacts had a connection to Stabæk and I came here for a trail. After a while I got offered a contract, he says.

– What's the biggest difference between the Norwegian and the Indian league?

– It's much more competitive here and for my career it was a good move. I would have made more money playing in India, but I came here to develop as a player and maybe take a step towards a bigger league.

When NRK met Singh the day after his debut he was busy packing his bags. Next stop – Laos, for the two final qualification games for the Asian cup.

The last Indian player in Europe was Mohammed Salim in the 1930s, but he never got a competitive match for Celtic.

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