BigDaddy News

Football News

Will go to Asian Games, but really looking forward to being a father: Chhetri | Football News

About this Sunil Chettri, who turns 39 on Thursday, is sure: he will not be a coach. “Alarm clocks will have to go out of my life (once he retires),” he says. The India captain knows he should plan for a life beyond football but hasn’t. Because till he lags behind physically, Chhetri says he will not stop. “Then, mentally there will be a massive shift and I will say, ‘chhor na yaar.” When that happens, “I hope to leave with the happy thought that there are scorers in the team,” he says in an interview.

Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri(PTI) PREMIUM
Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri(PTI)


Does this birthday mean different because of impending fatherhood?

From the physical aspect or as a player, I don’t see any change. I am built like that. But being a father is such a change, man! Seeing Sonam (wife) every day go through what she does. I am more calm and more patient. (But) You feel helpless because you are like a substitute who will never play the game.

How do you view being part of the Asian Games at this stage of your life?

I will go to the Asian Games if my name is there. But I am really looking forward to being a father. That is why I will request the coach (Igor Stimac) not to include me for King’s Cup (Sept. 7-10) because that is very close to the (delivery) date. I hope nobody takes it as me trying to give an excuse for not playing for the country, but I want to be close to my wife and kid.

Do you also see Asian Games as an opportunity for young players?

Asian Games is very important because a lot of boys who are part of the senior team are also in the U-23 team (it will be U-24 this time because the Games were deferred). The more games these boys get before we play Australia, Uzbekistan and Syria (in the 2024 Asian Cup), the better. I am very proud of ISL (Indian Super League), but it is not going to be enough to take on Australia and Uzbekistan. Not even close.

I would love to see Rahim (Ali) get a couple of 90-minute games. (In ISL) Ishan (Pandita) hasn’t played enough games; Rahim played left half, right half, central midfielder; Manvir Singh plays as right winger, sometimes right back but never as a striker (at his club). These players are expected to be No.9 for India and we are quick to judge them. I have missed thousands of goals, let Manvir miss a thousand, let Rahim miss 500. And that’s why, for me, a SAFF without Kuwait and Lebanon should be under-23, even better under-20.

Given India’s recent success, will there be pressure on getting out of the group in the Asian Games?

From the outside, it may seem easy for fans when we play Bangladesh or Nepal or a SAFF team as compared to Qatar, Australia. (But) Bangladesh know how to defend, so it is not easy to close a game. That is why I say every game is difficult. But I am really optimistic.

India are more aggressive now. But with so many young players, how do you as captain ensure they don’t go over the line?

We talked about what happened with Rahim. (In the SAFF Championship he saw red for retaliation). Rahim apologised to the team and we moved forward. We love the fact that we are pressing high and are being aggressive and physical with the opponents, but there is a line you shouldn’t cross.

You are known for your regimentation in eating, sleeping and training. Is it the same now as you skip the Durand Cup?

The first five days, I just let go. When we are playing, I am crying that I need a break. When I have a 20-day break, after five days I was itching. I went and played a bit of cricket, did some corrective exercises. One part of my brain tells me to take a break. One part tells me to just enjoy every bit of the football. My wife tells me that it is better when the season starts because I am at least sane.

For some, the last season began in August and ended in July. This one will have a lot of games as well. Are Indian players equipped to deal with that?

I think so. The one thing we have talked in the camp is teams like Australia, Japan, South Korea, Qatar are better than us. But they can’t want it more than us. As far as physical attributes are concerned, we shouldn’t lag behind. Because the information, genetics and infrastructure are all there in India, for the top players at least. So, if Australia beat us because they are that good, it’s fine. But they should at least know that we were really physical and wanted to win badly. Those two things are non-negotiable in the India camp now. You need the desire and back it up with hard work, dedication and sacrifice. If you can’t do this much for the country, it’s a shame. This is the culture I want to leave behind in the India dressing room.

What do you look forward to in this season?

Being a father. There are a few things that I also want to improve on: shooting with my left foot is one, I have seen data where I tend to shift the ball to my right. I also want to work on my stamina and strength because we know who we are facing (in Asian Cup and World Cup qualifiers).

Are you looking at the World Cup qualifiers in March?

I am excited but I am looking only till the Asian Cup now.

Have you planned your retirement?

No. And I should but I don’t know how to start. I think the first hint I will get is on the pitch. I am very competitive so I think an Udanta (Singh), Suresh, Gurpreet, Sandesh, they will tell me that I am lagging behind. Bhai, ab nahi ho raha hai. And there would be no shame in being told that it is done because I have had a great career.

Leave feedback about this

  • Quality
  • Price
  • Service


Add Field


Add Field
Choose Image
Choose Video

Want To Earn From Skills ?

Bonus On New ID