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Father’s Day 2024: Sunil Chhetri ‘wants to be’ a role model like his father

Sunil Chhetri, who recently retired from international football after a remarkable 19-year career, is now turning his focus towards family life, particularly cherishing moments with his son, Dhruv, born last August. As the football ace gears up for his first Father’s Day today, he reflects on the values instilled by his own father, Kharga Chhetri, and hopes to be a similar guiding light for his son.

Sunil Chhetri wants to set an example for his son, Dhruv, who was born last August, just like Sunil's father, Kharga Chetri did, for him.
Sunil Chhetri wants to set an example for his son, Dhruv, who was born last August, just like Sunil’s father, Kharga Chetri did, for him.

“I want to be a good role model, just like my father was for me,” the 39-year-old explains, stressing the importance of leading by example rather than mere words. “Kids nowadays learn more from what they see than what they’re told, so I want to set a good example and hope he finds inspiration in that. I don’t want to lecture my kid too much.”

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Recalling his upbringing, Sunil acknowledges the pivotal role his father played, despite being largely absent due to military duties. “Growing up, my world revolved around my mother, especially with my father often away on national duty,” he reminisces, adding, “But as I matured, I began to understand the impact my father had on shaping my values and aspirations.”

Despite his father’s physical distance, Sunil idolised him and sought to emulate his mannerisms and principles. “Even though he wasn’t around much, I always wanted to be like him — dress like him, speak like him,” says Sunil, adding, “His support became more tangible after he retired, ensuring I could focus on my football career. He was the one who started it all.”

Now, as he transitions into fatherhood himself, Sunil aims to provide the same unwavering support and dedication for his son. Despite the sacrifices and missed opportunities during his playing days, he looks forward optimistically to spending quality time with his family post-retirement.

“While I have thought about the moments where I wish my son could have seen me play for India, I’m grateful for technology — he’ll have plenty of videos to watch,” the footballer muses with a smile. “I still have another year with Bengaluru FC, so I’m looking forward to taking my son to training sessions,” he adds.

His enthusiasm for spending time with family is palpable. “I’m really excited. Now, whenever there are camps or national duties, I’ll have the freedom to be with them,” Sunil concludes.

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