Does 108 ring any special bell in Sunil Chhetri’s heart? Or is it just a number?
The man with 67 International goals, the highest-ever by an Indian footballer ever, currently stays a match away from being the most-capped Indian Footballer in International football. At the moment, he stays tied on 107 matches, same as his mentor Bhaichung Bhutia.
“It may sound strange, but I am the fittest in my life at the moment. It’s a bit weird when I say this, but it’s true,” he narrates. “I think the knowledge and discipline is the highest in my life right now, in terms of taking risk, in terms of having the right food, and in terms of training -- and that’s probably why I am this fit,” he mentions.
“I have never got a time where I can sit back and think about how much I have achieved. I am just happy that I am playing for my country, happy that I am training. What’s really good is that I am really enjoying now,” he states. “I don’t take it too seriously. I don’t get carried away. Such moments won’t last for ever. I want to enjoy every bit of it.”
Chhetri was speaking at a media interaction on the last day of the Indian Senior Men’s National Team preparatory camp for the forthcoming King’s Cup which concluded in the Capital on Saturday (June 1, 2019).
Going back to him staying on the cusp of being the most special man in Indian Football, Chhetri prefers to play it down.
“I never think about 100+ games, the number of goals I have scored. All of that is kept aside for talks after I retire,” he smiles.
“I feel proud when people around me keep reminding me that every record is in your name, and here we are talking about a country’s history. For someone who never even dreamt of playing for his country, or even of making it professionally, it’s unbelievable.”
Speaking about new Head Coach Igor Stimac’s influence, Chhetri quips that “the camp has been a really good one.”
“It’s been 7-8 days of training, and what the players have been really happy is about the Coach’s tactical, and technical knowledge where we understand things, and improve ourselves. Stimac’s man management has been exceptional as he talks to everyone. He is open minded,” Chhetri maintains.
“Players can go and talk to him anytime. It also helps as he was a player. So a lot many times when he talks to you, you get to understand that he too understands what a player goes through, and his needs,” Chhetri informs. “It’s all synchronised.”
“A lot of minute things like changing a timing here and there, or a little more time in the treatment room -- he understands it perfectly. I think one of the major reasons apart from his knowledge is the fact that he was a player.”
The Blue Tigers depart for Buriram tomorrow (June 1, 2019) en route Bangkok. The squad will be having an overnight stay in Bangkok, before boarding the flight to Buriram the next day morning. India’s first match in the King’s Camp is on June 5 against Curacao.