Gurpreet Singh Sandhu becomes the first Indian to play in Europa League

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Gurpreet Singh Sandhu becomes the first Indian to play in Europa League

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Amlan Majumdar

07/01/2016

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu made his Europa League debut during Norwegian side Stabæk's Europa League first qualifying round first leg fixture against Welsh side Connah's Quay. With his appearance in the starting lineup, Sandhu became the first Indian to appear in a continental fixture outside Asia.

Sandhu's Europa League debut was cut short due to an injury though, and the Indian custodian was replaced by Sayouba Mande, Stabæk's first choice goalkeeper in their domestic league matches, in the 30th minute. But during his short stint on the pitch, he did pull off a fine save to deny Michael Wilde the opportunity to put his team ahead.

The match ended in a goalless draw, and the second leg of the fixture will be held on July 7. The extent of Sandhu's injury is not known yet, and he will hope to regain his fitness in time for the next leg.

Before Sandhu, the likes of Mohammed Salim, Bhaichung Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri and Subrata Paul had all joined European sides, but none of them took part in any continental fixtures.

A month back, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu created history by becoming the first Indian footballer to start a European top division match after he made a debut for Stabæk FC in the Tippeligaen. Gurpreet kept a clean sheet and emerged victorious after Stabæk defeated IK Start 5-0. Back in April, he also become the first-ever Indian to captain a European side, after leading the reserve team of Norwegian club Stabæk against FC Senja.

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