When New Zealand international Sarpreet Singh arrived in his native country in December, he was welcomed by a massive group of fans together with a wide selection of media – one could sense that he was a star in the making.
He is not only one of the country’s major athletes but he has emerged as a role model for South Asians who have only dreamed of climbing up the ladder and breaking down all barriers that have limited them before when it comes to football.
The 21-year-old saw his dream come true of playing on the bigger world stage when Bundesliga side Bayern Munich signed him from Wellington Phoenix in the summer of 2019.
“Coming from New Zealand with an Indian background, it doesn’t happen too often,” he tells BBC Sport of his journey to the Bundesliga club.
“When I play for the New Zealand national team, a lot of people say we are the underdogs.
“But for me, it is all mental. It just comes down to how much work you want to put in.
“You couldn’t say that when I was playing in Wellington that I would now be at Bayern Munich, but here I am. Anything is possible.”
In an interview with BBC Sport, Singh revealed that his family had a strong stance about education but somehow he was allowed to follow a different path and it has proven fruitful for the rising star.
“Sometimes Indian parents say ‘don’t need it today’,” he said when speaking about the dedication of taking children to train and games. “My uncle still does it with his kids and we try to tell him that it’s important, especially when they’re young.
“The older they get the more the kids will start to realise but, when they are young, it’s important the parent drives it. They have to make a lot of sacrifices and that’s what my family did for me.”
Singh is now eager to make everything out of this opportunity playing for in the Bundesliga. He is one of five youngsters who has been awarded the chance to train with the first team.
He has scored six goals and provided seven assists from 19 appearances this season with Bayern Munich II.
“It was like where everything you have worked hard for has paid off. But, at the same time, it is just the start,” said Singh.
“Hopefully, I can set a good platform for the players that follow me,” he said.
“That’s kind of my goal – to be the best I can be, set a good example for the kids to come and encourage them to keep working hard so that one day it’ll be them.”