Sunil Chhetri (born 3 August 1984) is an Indian professional footballer who plays as a striker for Indian club Bengaluru FC and the Indian national team. He is both the most-capped player, and all-time top goalscorer for the India national team, with 53 goals in 93 appearances. He was also the captain of the national team from 2011 till 2016. His father played for the Indian Army’s team while his mother and her twin sisters played for the Nepal women’s national team. Chhetri started playing football from a young age taking part in various tournaments.
Chhetri was one of the few players to return home from Guam with any credit but the 30-year-old insists that any blame must be passed around equally. “Whenever the team loses, the blame should go to every one. It is not fair to single out one person. There was a backlash after the Guam game and everyone was very upset. I understand that. Let’s be honest, Guam is not Oman. But what Stephen Constantine is trying to do with the team takes time. People are going to judge, but it’s too early.” But after eleven years of watching Indian football stagnate, is Chhetri worried that there is no one in the picture to take on the mantle that he inherited from the likes of Baichung Bhutia and IM Vijayan? “I wouldn’t say worried is the right word. Everyone wants to improve, but there is no magic here. It is going to happen gradually and is going to take time.”
“I’m 30 now and all these players that I play with are 22 or 23. Wherever I have reached and whatever I have acheived is all because of the experience that I have. If somebody had asked ten years ago, ‘Do you think this new kid Chhetri is going to score 50 goals for India?’, they would have said no. There are a lot of good youngsters who have the talent, and they need time.”
“I am excited. On Thursday I was in Mumbai for the ISL medicals. Before this, it did not strike me that I was going to play there. I was with Bengaluru FC and the national team. But on that day, I felt the first vibe. I saw what they did to Indian football last year and I am really looking forward to it.”
But Chhetri maintains his ISL role will not sour his love-affair with Bengaluru FC.
“I am really really happy with BFC. We have done some great things as a club and we are improving every day”.
“For the last 13 years, I have been juggling the I-League and national team duties. Now one more thing has been added to it. I just hope to enjoy it.”
Blog by- Shivangi Jaiswal
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