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Sandesh Jhingan - Arjuna Award Winner

Sandesh Jhingan (born 21 July 1993) is an Indian professional footballer who plays as centre back for the India national team. Jhingan won the AIFF emerging player of the year award in 2014 and debuted for the national side in 2015. Currently, he holds the record for the most number of appearances for Kerala Blasters.

Club career
Early career: 2011-14

Born in Chandigarh, Jhingan received his football training at the St. Stephen's Academy. While with the academy, Jhingan helped the side reach the South-East Asian finals of the Manchester United Premier Cup. He also represented the Chandigarh state team at the under-19 level, helping them win the B.C. Roy Trophy.

After impressive performances for his state side and academy team, Jhingan received a call-up to attend trials at I-League 2nd Division side United Sikkim in November 2011. The trials were successful for Jhingan and he signed for the club the next month in December. Playing alongside former India internationals, Baichung Bhutia and Renedy Singh, Jhingan helped United Sikkim earn promotion to the I-League after the 2012 season.

Jhingan in a June 2020 interview said that he was rejected by many second and third division clubs in Kolkata. He said, "It was during the starting phase of my career. Back then I was looking for clubs and I appeared for quite a few trials at a number of clubs in Kolkata - even in the second and third divisions. But I was rejected by all."

Jhingan made his senior professional debut in the I-League on 6 October 2012 in United Sikkim's first match of the season against Salgaocar. Jhingan started the match and lasted the whole ninety minutes and scored the winning goal for United Sikkim as they won 3-2. He then scored his second goal for the club on 18 November 2012 against Sporting Goa. His goal was the only one for United Sikkim as they lost 2-1. Despite United Sikkim suffering from relegation at the end of the season and conceding a league high 63 goals, Jhingan was noticed to be a bright talent from the team. In February 2013 it was reported that Jhingan was receiving interest from Chinese League One clubs and that he would had to China for trials. However, selection into the India national team meant that Jhingan could not attend trials.

After the 2012-13 season, Jhingan signed a contract with IMG-Reliance to eventually be part of the Indian Super League which was to start in 2014. Despite struggling to sign a contract with an I-League club before the ISL began, Jhingan did reject an offer from Dempo. "Dempo is a big club and to receive an offer from them in itself was a big thing for me. There is no doubt that being associated with the club and playing under coach Arthur Papas would have benefitted me as a player. However, I don't regret my decision," Jhingan said in an interview. In November 2013 it was reported that Jhingan had signed with Rangdajied United on loan for the remainder of the season. However, not long after, it was announced that Jhingan had instead signed for Mumbai for the rest of the I-League campaign. He made his debut for the club on 7 December 2013 against Pune. Jhingan started the match and played for the whole match as Mumbai won 2-1.

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