15 years ahead, he is the latest recipient of the Arjuna Awards and one of the top goalkeepers in the world today. He is also one of the few shining lights in an Indian team struggling to live up to standards.
PR Sreejesh is now the vice-captain of the Indian national hockey team and a goalkeeping mainstay in the side for the last four years. Having made his senior debut in 2006 at the tender age 18, he has successfully taken over the goalkeeping duties from stalwarts such as Adrian D’Souza and Bharat Chettri.
We take at a look at five of the most memorable moments in the Kerala lad’s career:
The Junior Scene
Adjudged ‘Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament’ in the 2008 Junior Asia Cup, his brilliant performances caught the eye of the hockey fraternity and catapulted him into selection for the India senior team.
The CWG Silver Streak
He was part of the Indian team that won silver medals in back-to-back Commonwealth Games of 2010 and 2014. Sreejesh did his reputation no harm despite the defeats in the finals as one of the world’s top goalkeepers.
He finally struck gold at the Asian Games 2014 where India emerged champions and qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. As expected, he was one of the shining lights of the tournament.
Being The Best
The Champions Trophy 2014 held in India was a forgettable outing for the national side where they finished fourth. But, Sreejesh had an outstanding tournament, pulling of some excellent saves throughout. Ended up with the ‘Goalkeeper of the Tournament’ award.
Stopping The Koreans
He came up with a heroic performance in the third place play-off at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2015 against Korea. A string of saves along with two in the penalty shootout ensured India overcame a bad start and finish a creditable third in Malaysia.