Rising Indian-origin star Sarpreet keen to make an impact in Germany

Sarpreet Singh warms up ahead of Bayern Munich's Champions League game against Tottenham last year. File photo: AFP

Indian-origin New Zealand footballer Sarpreet Singh, who recently joined 2. Bundesliga club FC Nurnberg on loan from European champions Bayern Munich for the 2020-21 season, is determined to take his career to new heights.

Born in Auckland to Indian parents who migrated from Punjab, the 21-year-old attacking midfielder's rise to the big stage is an inspiration to young Indian footballers who dream of making their way in the game in top-flight leagues.

Somebody whose roots lay scattered in India and New Zealand, both minnows in football terms, Sarpreet's story is one of hope and determination, showcasing how personal resilience and hard work can triumph against all odds. 

The 5'7" playmaker made history when he became the first player of Indian origin to lift the Bundesliga title when Bayern Munich romped to an unprecedented eighth successive championship last season.

Sarpreet, who learned the nuances of the game at the Onehunga Sports Centre in Auckland, showed immense potential at a young age and soon joined the Wellington Phoenix Academy in 2015. He represented New Zealand in the FIFA U-17 World Cup hosted by India in 2017, and the 2019 U-20 World Cup held in Poland.

The youngster's impressive performances in the A-League and for his national team caught the eye of Bayern Munich scouts. Soon he was drafted into Bayern's reserve team in the German third division league. Sarpreet became the first footballer of Indian descent to play in the Bundesliga when he made his first-team debut by coming off the bench in a 6-1 win against Werder Bremen on December 14, 2019.

However, he did not get another chance to contribute to the main team which is filled with world-class players in just about every position. Reasling that he would be getting limited game time if he stayed back, Sarpreet decided to leave the Bavarians on a season-long loan to second tier side Nurnberg.

Nurnberg last played in the Bundesliga in 2018-19 and are hoping to return to the top-flight next season.

"Bayern have taken good care of me and done everything to make me a better player. They won everything last season. Individually and collectively they are the best. For me, it was a very good learning experience. At the same, it was important for me to take the next step and get more consistent game time. When I considered a move to Nurnberg, everyone, including my coach, agreed that this was the right next step for me," Sarpreet said in a video interaction with Indian journalists.

About his Indian roots, he said: "I was born and raised in New Zealand, but I'm an Indian at heart, for sure. We still live like a typical Punjabi family. It’s been my lifestyle growing up. I was part of the New Zealand team that visited India for the 2018 Intercontinental Cup. I could also play a match against India in that tournament. Indian football fans are really special. They are passionate and cheerful and I enjoyed playing in front of them. It is pleasing to see the standard of the Indian Super League and the I-League improving. Roy Krishna (ATK's striker) was my teammate at Wellington and I share a special bond with him. From what he tells me, ISL is a good league and everything is quite professional."

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