Exclusive: Indian Olympic hockey hero Sreejesh thanks UAE businessman for cash reward – News
33-year-old Kerala caretaker says he will never forget Dr Shamsheer Vayalil’s gesture
It’s been three weeks since PR Sreejesh entered Indian hockey lore when his superb last resort reflex stop ended the country’s 41-year drought for Olympic medals.
Twenty days after wearing the bronze medal around his neck, smiling and hugging his teammates on the podium after breaking German hearts, Sreejesh was still wearing his Indian jersey and was smiling from ear to ear when Khaleej weather interviewed him on a Zoom video call.
Besides the countless accolades, Sreejesh now also carries a piece of the United Arab Emirates in his heart.
The 33-year-old goalkeeper from Kerala said he would never forget the gesture of Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, president and CEO of the United Arab Emirates-based group VPS Healthcare, who showered him with an award in cash of 10 million rupees.
“After winning the medal, all Indian states announced the prize money for their players (in the Indian team), but I never heard anything from Kerala. So he (Dr Shamsheer Vayalil) told me personally called and said to me, “Sree, this is a little token of appreciation from me, you just take this as a gift from an older brother to a younger brother.” That made my day, ” said Sreejesh Khaleej weather Wednesday.
“You know, he never said, ‘Okay, you take that money. He said to me, ‘Sree, you made us proud’. These are the exact words he spoke. It made my day serious as I never knew him personally. But after seeing my accomplishment, it came with such a great price. I mean it’s one of the best things that can happen to me after the Olympics. Now I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank him once again.
Sreejesh received the check from VPS Healthcare in Kerala. And the function was made even more memorable by the presence of Kerala sports hero Manuel Frederick.
Remarkably, Frederick was also the goalkeeper for the Indian hockey team which won the bronze medal at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
“That was the beauty of the job because for Kerala it took almost 49 years to win another Olympic medal. And Manuel Frederick was Kerala’s first Olympic medalist. He was also a hockey player and goaltender. So it was a big coincidence, ”Sreejesh said.
“You know, when I met Mr. Rajiv, Dr. Shamsheer’s assistant,” he said. ‘Sree this is the best thing we can do for you because if you want we can bring any celebrity into the function. But we thought about taking a former player from your sport. So that made the occasion even more beautiful.
Kozhikode-born businessman Dr Shamsheer Vayalil also captured Sreejesh’s heart with another gesture.
“You know, Dr Shamsheer also offered Manuel Frederick a check for 1 million rupees,” Sreejesh said.
“Manuel Frederick was really happy and he said: ‘it’s been a long time since I saw such a quantity’. The whole function was fantastic.