India custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, on Thursday, became the first footballer from the nation to feature in the UEFA Europa League qualifiers. The feat has not been overlooked by the Indian football fans in the social media or by the mainstream media, both international and domestic.
Gurpreet started the Europa League qualifiers game for Stabaek FC against Welsh side Connah's Quay Nomads FC and participated for 30 minutes in the game. There was a big blow, however, as the Indian goalkeeper had to be substituted following a wrist injury.
The result of the match was a goalless draw.
"Proud to reach another milestone by playing in Europa League but gutted to have it cut short after injuring my hand [sic]," tweeted Gurpreet on Friday. The likes of Bhaichung Bhutia, Mohammad Salim, Sunil Chhetri and even Subrata Paul may have plied their trade in European clubs in the past, but never have they featured in any top-division or a continental competition game.
Gurpreet, 24, a former East Bengal goalkeeper, had in May this year become the first Indian footballer to appear in a Norwegian top division game. He had kept a clean sheet in that match as well.
Gurpreet's national teammates, Indian football fans as well as football federations have come together to congratulate the Indian footballer on achieving history. Here are some of the tweets: