THE ISL PLAYER AUCTION was a curious experience for Indian captain Sunil Chhetri. After missing the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League, Chhetri and many other Bengaluru FC were introduced into the ISL 2 via the domestic draft and auction. At the auction, he was picked up by Mumbai City for Rs 1.20 crore. Speaking to The Times of India about the experience, Chhetri said,
"It was amusing and exciting at the same time. I've never been part of something like it before and it was interesting to sit behind the scenes and watch all the drama unfold. It's funny how, at one moment you could be playing for a city in one corner of the country and the very next, somewhere else!"
Sunil was not the only Bengaluru FC player signed by Mumbai City. At the draft, the Ranbir Kapoor-owned franchise selected Keegan Pereira, another player who has left his mark at BFC over the last two seasons. Chhetri is hopeful of bringing Bengaluru FC's tight team spirit to the Mumbai side,
"At Bengaluru FC, we are a very closely knit team - on the pitch and off it to. There's an unsaid understanding and it plays a vital part. Let's hope we can carry it forward for Mumbai City FC."
Playing at Mumbai City brings a chance to take to the pitch alongside renowned French striker Nicolas Anelka, who is the marquee player-manager of the team. Sunil Chhetri is visibly excited about the opportunity to share a dressing room with and learn from the ex Arsenal and Chelsea player,
"He's a legend and I am going to learn as much as I can from him. I am excited and cannot wait to play alongside him. About what aspect of the game will I pick his brains on, I'll have to gauge and decide!"
Sunil is presently going through his pre-season at Bengaluru FC. Mid-August, he will join the national team camp in Pune, where the Blue Tigers will play a friendly with Nepal on 31st August before their all-important World Cup qualifier against Iran on 8th September. After two losses against Oman and Guam in June, the current record holder of scoring most goals for India is eager to see the national team bounce back.
"The beauty of football is that every new game is a chance to fix all your wrongs and that is exactly how we will be looking at the friendly against Nepal. The team is young and does need time but is also a determined bunch and hopefully everyone will be able to see that in the coming days."
Read the full interview here.