The India skipper spoke exclusively to Khel Now on the Blues’ season so far, the national team and much more…
After Bhaichung Bhutia, if there’s one man who has undoubtedly carried the baton of Indian football, it is definitely Sunil Chhetri. The talismanic striker recently became the top Indian goalscorer in the domestic top flight before leading the Blue Tigers to two impressive wins on the international stage. The India skipper spoke exclusively to Khel Now on the season so far, his goals with the national team and much more. The captain has scored 53 goals for the Blue Tigers in 93 appearances, with a higher scoring rate than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Cheers to our own footballing Messiah!
Q1: You have played for several clubs in different parts of the country and around the world. Which is the place you enjoyed playing and living in the most?
Every club that I have played for has left me with memories and lessons that I will always keep with me. But I have really enjoyed my time in Bengaluru with Bengaluru FC. The city is wonderful, our fans are the best in the country and I have met and made many friends here. I have recently bought myself a house in Bengaluru city which should tell you how much I like the place.
Q2: Lot has obviously gone into the making of your career. Can you please name some of the key people who have helped you get to where you are today as a professional and a person?
There have been a lot of important people who have played their part in shaping my career. A lot of coaches who believed in me, even kit men, physios and ball boys from teams that I have played for have been an important people in my career. My hero and inspiration has always been my father.
Q3: This has obviously been a disappointing season for BFC given that you’re out of the title race. why do you think things haven’t worked out?
Yes, it has been disappointing, but that’s football. You have to take it in your stride. Our fans have dealt with this phase tremendously well. There were many factors that have made this season a tough one but speaking about them would make it sound like we’re giving excuses. However, we have been playing some very good football now and we have two competitions that we need to go out there and win.
Q4: Despite a difficult domestic season you seem like a team transformed in the AFC Cup. what’s different between domestic and continental football?
Yes, we seem to always do well in AFC competitions and I’m not sure about the reason for that. I think we raise our game and you saw that last season where we made the final. We have three wins in three games so far and we know we have the squad to win the competition.
Chhetri believes current Blues Boss Albert Roca is one of the best coaches he’s worked with.
Q5: You’ve worked with some of the finest coaches in the country and overseas. Where would you place Albert Roca among them? With whom have you enjoyed working the most?
The boss (Albert Roca) come with the experience of having trained and worked with literally the best players in the world. He has been fantastic for us and it’s disappointing that we hit a bad patch this season. He and Carles (assistant coach) work really hard on the team and it’s been a transition phase in terms of style of play but we seem to be getting there. I can’t single out one coach who I’ve liked playing under, the most.
Q6: The national team has made tremendous progress in the last 2-3 years. What’s so special about this group?
The current national team is filled with a lot of exciting young talent. These are boys who want to work very hard and push and pull together. It’s great that we have achieved our highest ranking in the last two decades but we need to be consistent and that will always be the key.
Q7: A message for the fans about the future of Indian football?
It is very heartening to see the kind of support Indian football has been receiving over the last few years. There are a lot more people who are aware now and there is always a buzz on social media which is fantastic for the sport in India. The fans need to know that we, as players, appreciate this a lot and sincerely hope this movement grows.