KOCHI: As the whole country watched on in anticipation as the Indian hockey team tried to taste Olympic glory again, time froze with five seconds left on the clock and the team’s fate was in the hands of the goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.
With the score at 5-4, the German team, nearly equalised from a penalty corner. But even in those dying moments, when fatigue can set in, the 33-year-old showed remarkable reflexes and concentration to pull off a stunning save.
While most of the players let out their emotions and broke into tears as India pulled off a triumph for the ages, Sreejesh, who has seen the highs and lows of Indian hockey for the past 15-odd years, had surprisingly remained calm throughout as he embraced his teammates.
"The first thing that came into my mind (after the win) was relief. I didn’t cry. I was not overjoyed, even though I was happy that we got a medal. I was happy that the hard work that we put in the last one and a half years paid off. And I'm really happy for the youngsters. In the team, there are 10-12 youngsters and those who have a big career ahead. They can carry this legacy forward," said Sreejesh, during a Facebook live session organised by Sony Sports, the official broadcasters of the Games.
Sreejesh was one of the most talked about players on social media after the match and a photo of him sitting on top of the goalpost in a contemplative mood went viral. "It's a re-birth of hockey. We lived in the past for a long time," opined Sreejesh.