At 21 years of age, he counts being an Olympian and a World Cup winner among his career achievements. Harmanpreet's rapid rise as a disciplined and relentless performer has seen him shuttle between the senior and junior sides in major tournaments across the globe.
Harmanpreet first gained attention on the junior circuit in 2014 at the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia, when he scored nine goals and followed it with a rich haul of 15 at the 2015 Junior Asia Cup. For his impressive performances, he was included in India's squad for the 2016 Rio Olympics and by the time the year came to a close, had played a key role in bringing home the Junior Hockey World Cup after 15 years.
TOI Sports caught up with Harmanpreet, who is gearing up for Hockey India League 2017 beginning January 21 where he will turn out for Dabang Mumbai.
The Sultan of Johor Cup, Junior Asia Cup, Olympics and now Junior World cup. You have quite a CV. How does it feel to be a World Cup winner?
I am very proud. We have worked so hard all these years preparing for this moment and to have finally got the result has been an exhilarating experience. We played in the right spirit. Each guy was assigned a definitive role and we performed our duties brilliantly. The most memorable moment was lifting the Junior World Cup. We had a talk about how we have waited for this moment all these years and the time has finally come. We are told to enjoy our games and bring home the medal.
You have been shuttling between the junior and the senior team ...
There were several things which I didn't know (when in the company of seniors). The seniors were very helpful and they guided me. I got to play with and against some of the biggest names in world hockey. That helped in boosting my confidence level. So, being with the senior team was quite helpful. The biggest thing I took while my time with the senior players was the experience. It's not like you don't feel the pressure when playing for the junior team but it is at another level when it comes to the senior side.
Having said that, I would say that rest is pretty much similar be it training or the preparations prior to a match. I remember one match at the senior level where I didn't perform well because that was my first time at this level and pressure got to me. I was not happy with that but then the seniors advised me to not get worried and told to get over it and focus on my natural game and strengths. So thanks to them for helping me out.
How important has the contribution of Roelant Oltmans and Harendra Singh been?
Both Roelant Oltmans and Harendra Singh made us work very hard. They did all the work; creating strategies on match basis, the approach towards a particular team. I would say the credit for our performances goes to the coaches. I am fortunate that we got their services at the right time. We played as per their plans.
PR Sreejesh was also present with the team...
Sreejesh paaji's presence surely helped, it was a confidence booster. He shared his experience with us, used to speak to each and every member of the team and would give pointers. He was very helpful.
Your captain Harjeet Singh has also been praised for his performance...
He's been brilliant and knows how to lead the team, knows how to create a system. He ensured discipline and used to communicate with everyone. He used to guide us as a friend and as a brother. He's a nice person to talk to.