Former hockey forward Sandeep Michael dies

Former Indian hockey player Sandeep Michael, who captained the Indian junior team to an Asia Cup gold in 2003, died Friday after battling an unspecified neurological problem. (File Photo)

Former Indian hockey player Sandeep Michael, who captained the Indian junior team to an Asia Cup gold in 2003, died Friday after battling an unspecified neurological problem here. The former forward was 33. “Sandeep passed away this afternoon in a private hospital. He was battling a brain problem and was admitted on November 18. He slipped into a coma and could not be revived,” Karnataka State Hockey Association Secretary K Krishna Murthy told PTI here.

Michael’s funeral will be held on Saturday at the Singapura church cemetery, Murthy said. The high point of Michael’s India career was the 2003 junior Asia Cup in which he was adjudged the most promising player. He scored in crunch games against teams like Pakistan and Korea.

“He had a knack of scoring goals from any position and angle. This skill endeared him to the coaches and he was also loved by fans,” Murthy said.

His father John Michael was a state-level volleyball player and his mother Alamelu was a track-and-field athlete and also was a state-level kho-kho player, he added.

Michael’s younger brother, Vineet, too played hockey and represented Karnataka in the Sub-Junior Nationals in 2002. Michael found fame at the senior level in a tournament in Australia in 2003.

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“In this tournament he scored two goals after he came in as a substitute for Dhanraj Pillay. Pillay was rested by coach Rajinder Singh to give Sandeep international exposure,” he said.

“I still remember Pillay praising Sandeep for the exquisite goal by saying it was a beauty of a goal that was well executed,” he recalled.

In 2001, he made his debut for the country as a junior in the Under-18 Asia Cup at Ipoh in Malaysia under Jugraj Singh. He was also part of the Indian development teams that won gold and bronze medals respectively in the Akbar-el-Yom Cup competition in 2002 and 2003, Murthy added.

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