It’s going to end soon, but not for the next few years: Chhetri talks about career

Indian football’s torchbearer and talismanic captain for the past 10 years, Sunil Chhetri, reflected on his career on Thursday, saying that “it is going to end soon”, but added that he is “going nowhere for the next few days”. Have been “years.”

The 37-year-old, who overtook the international goalscorer Pele with his 79th strike in the ongoing SAFF Championship match against Maldives on Wednesday, got philosophical with his approach to the game clearly dissecting the final leg . His wonderful career.

“It is a fact that it (his career) is going to end soon” said Chhetri and asked himself to enjoy every moment of it.

“Now I’ve got a very simple mantra. Stand up friend, spend a lot of work time, a lot of work is left, play your best, go quiet and give your best. Little time pe khtam tha wala hai (I tell myself) I think there is very little time left, very few games left, go quiet and give your best. It is going to end in some time),” he said when asked how he has been through his illustrious career. He lifts himself up amidst the lows.

“Stop crying, stop cheering, over-celebrate, stop putting yourself down because this will all be over very soon. Right now I’ll pick myself up, go out there and try to give my best because I know That it is a fact that it is going to end soon.

But in the same breath, he made it clear that the inevitable would not happen for the next few years.

“SC11 is not going anywhere for the next few years. So just relax,” he said.

The third-best international goalscorer among active players after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi said he prefers to stay away from outside noise as there are not many matches left in his illustrious career.

He made his international debut in 2005 against Pakistan in Quetta under head coach Sukhwinder Singh and broke all possible records in Indian football.

He has played a record 124 matches for India in his career spanning 16 years. He has been the poster boy of Indian football since the retirement of former captain Bhaiching Bhutia in 2011.

“Gali khata hai, or people tarif hai… Whatever I try to forget, I go out there and try to do my best. Missing, I’ll miss goals, scoring I’ll score but that’s all We’ll talk once we’re done.

“Because I don’t want to regret that I could have done this and that. I want to do everything now.”

Asked about the great Pele toppled, Chhetri said, “Everyone who knows football knows that he (with Pele) has no comparisons. I am happy to play and score for my country. That’s all I want,” he said.

“Very little footage of the great man (Pele) but from what I can see, he was a dynamic and powerful footballer. Football was different back then, the game was brutal at that time.

“Despite that he has scored so many goals and it speaks of his extremely great achievement.”

Chhetri said his short-term goal is to help India qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup in China. He has played in the 2011 and 2019 editions of the continent’s showpiece event.

He admitted that his team did not live up to the expectations in the first two drawn matches of the SAFF Championship against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka but gradually improved.

“It was a rough start to the tournament for us. Not scoring against Sri Lanka was unacceptable. We missed many chances against Nepal as well. We were not playing against Qatar and Japan and the UAE of the world.

“To beat a tough team like Maldives in Maldives and that too in a hostile environment (domestic fan support) was the way we needed to play.

“We are the dominant side in this area and I think we are peaking at the right time and we can reach the finals,” Chhetri said.

Chhetri picked Manveer Singh, India’s first goal scorer against Maldives, as his possible successor in goal scoring.

“I am banking on Manveer when I am done. He is a beast, a machine, in every training test we have, he will be in the top three.

“The problem is that he plays on the right side for ATK Mohun Bagan in the ISL but as No. 9 in the national team. He is young and therefore unable to adapt (from one situation to another) and so sometimes he is put off. He will learn with experience. He is our weapon.”

Among others, Chhetri picked Apuia, Rahim Ali, Anirudh Thapa and Liston Colaco as future goal-scorers.

The country needs better players than Sunil Chhetri. We have to evolve and be better than ever. In future we will have better scorers than Sunil Chhetri, that is expected and we have to be patient.


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