While the on-field performances got a lot of attention, the real story of these boys lies in their fight against hardships to become world champions.
Captain Harjeet Singh, goalkeepers Vikas Dahiya and Krishan Bahadur Pathak, defenders Harmanpreet Singh and Varun Kumar, midfielder Sumit Kumar and forward Ajit Kumar Pandey, all come from humble backgrounds. One things that binds these seven together, apart from the world conquering feat, is that their fathers worked day and night to ensure that their wards could represent the country.
“My father never refused anything to me. My stick used to break while playing but he made sure I get a new one. He has always supported me and helped me achieving my goals,” Harjeet told News18 during an exclusive interview.
Harjeet’s father had a monthly income of five thousand rupees, but he did all that he could to help his son realise his dream of playing for the country.
“I knew it was tough for him to fulfill all my desires, but he did it with a smile on his face,” he said.
Goal-keepers Vikas Dahiya and Krishan Bahadur Pathak have similar stories to tell.
Dahiya whose heroics in the penalty-shootout against Australia in the semi-final gave India a crack at the title recollects how his father arranged money to buy a good goal-keeping kit for him.
“My father works as a truck driver in a factory. Despite earning not so well, he never said no to me.”
Reserve keeper Krishna Bahardur Pathak, who originally hails from Nepal, lost his father earlier this year. His father Tek Bahadur worked as a crane operator.
Despite receiving a go-ahead from coach Harendra Singh for going back to perform his father’s last rites, who had expired in his home town Lugdi in Nepal, a young Krishan decided to stay back in order to represent the national team on the tour of England.
“My father came in search of a job in India. My sisters and brothers were born in Nepal, but I was born in Kapurthala. They are all 20 years older to me. I speak to them whenever I get time, I miss them,” Krishan said.
For most of these youngsters, this triumph is just a stepping stone to bigger things that await them in the future. What they need to remember is the hardships that they have faced to reach so far and keep their feet firmly on the ground as they enter an all new phase in their international career.