Sandesh Jhingan joins Croatian first division side HNK Sibenik

Sandesh Jhingan juggles the ball during his unveiling at HNK Sibenik. ISL media

Sandesh Jhingan completed his move from ATK Mohun Bagan to HNK Sibenik on Wednesday. He will be the first India international footballer to play in the Croatian top-tier league.

"We are very happy to have Sandesh with us. We expect good things from him as we have followed him on different platforms where we were able to see his past performances. Although we know the adaptation process might take him a few weeks, we are confident that with his quality and leadership, he will become an important member of the team," said Francisco Cardona, CEO of HNK Sibenik.

Named India's footballer of the year last month, Jhingan had travelled early to Croatia and watched Sibenik's home win against Hrvatski Dragovoljac on Sunday. "He made a very good impression on the staff and fans of the club when he was watching the last home game from the stands. He showed passion and energy for the team," said Cardona.

Meanwhile, Jhingan said, "I think I am at a stage of my career where I really want to test myself in the highest-level possible and I think this is the perfect platform for me. As I have said, it has been my desire to play in Europe and I have taken up this challenge upon myself. A big thank you to the Head Coach Mario Rosas and the owners and management for giving me the opportunity to come here. I cannot wait to get going and look forward to giving 100% at every given opportunity."

Founded in 1932, HNK Sibenik returned to the premier division last season under new management. The club finished sixth in the league, two places off qualifying for European competitions. It is based out of Sibenik, the Dalmatian region of Croatia.

"We are very happy that Sandesh is with us. We know he will help us achieve the goals that we have set for ourselves during the season. His stint here will help him grow as a player and person," said HNK Sibenik coach Mario Rosas. "We hope that he will continue to be an example for Indian footballers. He has demonstrated his ambition and competitiveness by wanting to get out of his comfort zone and show what Indian footballers are capable of."

Jhingan started his youth career at St. Stephen's Football Academy in Chandigarh before debuting in the top division with United Sikkim in 2011. In 2014, Sandesh, then 21 was adjudged as the 'Emerging player of the league' in the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League. After that, he soon cemented his place in the national team. The defender has two ISL runners-up medals with Kerala Blasters FC where he spent six years and another with ATK Mohun Bagan, who he joined in 2020.