New Delhi: “I am enjoying my football and am not going away anytime soon.” This is what talismanic Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri said. Sunil Chhetri indicated that he will keep on playing for at least another three to four years.
The 35-year-old Chhetri holds the national record of most international matches and most number of goals. He clarified that retirement plans are currently not on his mind.
“I don’t want to put numbers (on how long I will keep playing). But I am enjoying my football and I am not going away anytime soon,” Chhetri said. He was taking part in a live chat on the Facebook page of Indian football team.
“I told my wife that I am feeling so fit. I am going to challenge Udanta and Ashique Kuruniyan (both India and Bengaluru FC team-mates) for a sprint. Unless a Sahal (Abdul Samad) scores a lot of goals and push me away (from the national team), I am going to be there, playing for the team,” the forward added.
Chhetri completes 15 years of international career Friday since making his debut in Quetta against Pakistan in a friendly in 2005. He had scored on his debut in the 1-1 drawn match. Since then, he has played 115 matches and scored 72 goals. He is the second highest international scorer among active footballers, behind Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and above Argentine Lionel Messi.
“I am fortunate to have played 15 years for my country. It is a dream, 3-4 years more probably and it will be (nearly) 20 years. Who would have thought to play 20 years and so I am living on my dream,” Chhetri said.
No World Cup ambitions
Chhetri, however, is almost unlikely to play in a World Cup match. India are out of reckoning for a berth in the 2022 showpiece in Doha while the 2026 edition is too far.
He was teased by national teammate Sandesh Jhingan who asked him to be prepared for the 2026 World Cup. “I don’t know about 2026 World Cup. But I would love to see Anirudh Thapa sending a cross which Jhingan will head and score. I would love to watch it from the stands. Till the time I am with the national team, I will give my best,” asserted Chhetri.
Biopic on the cards
Chhetri also said he has been in talks with some people for a biopic which could come out in the near future.
“I had a couple of meetings and I will not tell you with whom. It was nice but it did not materialise. It may be in future. If and when it happens, the story will be mine and it will be what I want to be. But I will not be a part to choose the star cast or who will direct it,” informed Chhetri.
Influence of Bhaichung
The player also talked about the influence another legend and his former captain Bhaichung Bhutia had on his career.
(Bhaichung) Bhai was my hero and he had immense influence on me. When I was at ninth or 10th standard, I went to watch Durand Cup (in Delhi). After the game I wanted to touch him but the security people did not allow it,” Chhetri said.
“But two years later, I was in Mohun Bagan and he was also there. He came to me and said ‘I have heard about you kid and you are doing well’. To share the dressing room of club and country with Bhai was amazing experience. I learnt a lot from him and other senior players like Renedy Singh,” Chhetri signed off.