The Blue Tigers’ skipper was speaking at the Football Delhi e-summit.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that Sunil Chettri is the face of Indian football. Considering that, it is somewhat fitting that his birthday is celebrated as Delhi Football Day. Speaking at the Football Delhi e-summit, Sunil Chhetri stated that he is incredibly grateful to the association for bestowing such an honour upon him.

“I am really honoured to have this day. It is like a dream. When you start playing, you never dream that your birthday will be made so special and for that I am really thankful to Football Delhi,” he remarked.

Having turned 36, Sunil Chettri is still going strong and is fitter than ever. However, there will come a time when the forward will have to hang up his boots and the national team needs to prepare for that time by finding a replacement for the irreplaceable marksman. There has been plenty of discussion on this matter and the Bengaluru FC captain provided his thoughts on the same.  

“I don’t think we should be looking for the next Sunil Chhetri, but much better. If we catch players on time and give them the right training and nutrition, I am sure we can find excellent players. If we did what we did with me, there are a lot of even better players now and imagine what can be done with them,” he opined.

Union Minister Kiren Rijiju was also present at the summit and spoke about his plans for putting together a committee that will be on the lookout for some of the promising young talents in our country.

“I am planning to form a committee to scout talent and go deeper. This committee will have experts, so along with the current system, this committee will go for talent identification early and maybe below 12 years. I want this committee to look at rural areas, tribal areas, the Northeast and the Himlayas for players. There is no reason India should lag behind,” he revealed.

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Rijiju further believes that it is key that there is an improvement in the stature of football in India, for it to really transform into a global sporting power, before adding that he is aiming to raise the standard of the sport in the nation.

“Without football, a country of India’s size will never be considered a truly global sporting power. India had a football culture, but something happened in the 80s. Football is the normal way of life in the Northeast. If Ronaldo and Messi come to Bengal and Northeast, there will be riots, that’s the level of craze. I will look to make football one of the main sporting events in the country.”

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