Provided separate sets of jerseys in a tournament, for two different roles in the playing XI – Prabhsukhan Gill was way above ordinary talent. But, the dilemma faced while choosing his bread and butter between defender and goalkeeper, was more tiresome than displaying his antics on the field.
In the end, it seems he leapt to the correct side, at least the Hero ISL 2021-22 justified his decision, as he rocked the biggest stage in Indian football with a pair of gloves.
As the accidental goalkeeper worked his way up the ladder, it paved the way for brighter days. So, even if he was initially a deputy to Albino Gomes in the Kerala Blasters FC setup, fate had written a different script for the tale.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the primary choice personnel was sidelined owing to an injury in the early days of the tourney, while Gill took the centre stage.
For a goalkeeper, the parameter to gauge effectiveness is quite simple, make saves or bite the dust. Always passing the test with flying colours, Gill did not deviate from his habit. Keeping seven clean sheets in a tight league such as the Hero ISL speaks volumes regarding his resistance.
A save percentage of 69.23% (the second highest amongst all goalkeepers, with minimum eight matches played) is not a mere feat, but propelling Kerala Blasters FC to the final of the Hero ISL would be an achievement he would consider greater.
As much as scoring goals matter in football, conceding less is just on the flip side. It could have well been a deciding factor to gain an entry pass to the semi-finals. A goalkeeper is as good as the team itself!
Out of the 169 shots faced by the custodian, he shipped in just 21, numerically accounting to just 0.12% (joint lowest by a keeper, minimum eight matches) of the total.
Moreover, averting penetration from ultra-offensive sides like Hyderabad FC, Mumbai City FC and even Jamshedpur FC in the semi-final, adds brownie points to his already glittering stats.
So, when he was conferred with the Golden Glove award after the Hero ISL 2021-22 final, no one batted an eyelid, despite Hyderabad FC’s Laxmikant Kattimani producing a one-in-a-lifetime performance in the summit clash, along with his season heroics. Gill had already reached heights that were out of bounds for the moment
With an average of 83.52 minutes per goal conceded (1.05 goals conceded per game), it could not have missed India national team head coach Igor Stimac’s attention. Always scouting for fresh talents, the gloveman was summoned for the preparatory camp ahead of the international friendlies against Bahrain and Belarus in March and later inducted into the final squad.
Setting up high standards, all at the age of 21 is commendable, but that also soares the expectations for the future. Slipping the Hero ISL trophy from a hand-shaking distance was a bitter pill to swallow after a tiring evening at the PJN Stadium. That does not dent the prolific season he’s gifted to the millions of Blasters faithfuls. Chin up, lad.
For the time being, Gill’s prime motive should be to sharpen the skills, with veterans like Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Amrinder Singh by his side to provide insights. Even if he falls short of making a debut for the ‘Blue Tigers’ in the upcoming tour, the 2021-22 season would still remain his breakthrough phase.
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