Eighteen years and 92 international goals since his India debut, skipper Sunil Chhetri said that he could not have ever scripted his career the way it has unfolded in the last two decades. The 38-year-old, who led the Blue Tigers to successive championship victories in the form of the Intercontinental Cup and the SAFF Championship, is eternally grateful for the love that the masses continue to shower upon him at every given opportunity.
Chhetri expressed ecstasy at the course that his playing career has undertaken. The star striker has thrived in multiple clubs across the country and prospered in his overseas stints too. However, it is his unbreakable bond with the senior national team that continues to garner affection for him everywhere he goes.
“If anyone would have given me a book and asked me to write my dream life down back then, maybe, I would not have written it the way it has turned out to be. I say this with extreme humility. It is an absolute privilege and honour to be who I am. I am profoundly blessed. The number of years I have played, the number of things I have achieved, the people I have shared the dressing room with, it’s an unbelievable feat. I am very thankful to a lot of people for that,” the Bengaluru FC talisman said while speaking to the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) exclusive show “In The Stands”.
“I am Sunil Chhetri. There’s only one and I am living an absolute dream,” he further quipped.
Despite the unadulterated warmth laden upon him, Chhetri is still in awe of major personalities across other spheres of life. He let his millions of fans know that he appreciates the courage that they gather to come up and talk to him whenever they want to, said the India captain. The forward went to the length of revealing that he has had to overcome nerves whilst bumping into the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and senior actor Amitabh Bachchan in public events previously
“Whenever I meet Mary Kom, she will know that a fan has come to meet her. I met Neeraj Chopra. Of course, he is very sweet and he reciprocates the same feeling. When I met Mr Bachchan, at first, I was a bit hesitant but I did accumulate the strength to go and tell him that I am a big fan. The first time I met (Sachin) Tendulkar, I was a bit hesitant. We were both invited as chief guests at a football tournament. He was being very nice and it’s not often that I am short of words but I was a little hesitant to tell him exactly what a big deal he is for me and the whole country,” Chhetri revealed.
However, in his own words, he relates and connects the most with Indian cricket stalwart Virat Kohli. The two legends, hailing from Delhi, walk very similar paths in their respective careers. They stress the extreme importance of the need for a strict diet and lead by example with their exemplary fitness standards. Chhetri disclosed that there are certain discussions about dealing with and overcoming pressure and expectations that the two of them have talked about in great detail.
Chhetri said, “We talk about a lot of normal things. We share a lot of laughter. We share a lot of jokes and a lot of funny stuff. I have had a lot of deep and meaningful chats. It’s not like we talk 24×7 every day. There are phases when we do not talk for months but the best part is that he understands and so do I. But, we catch up exactly from where we left it. The few times when I have felt the heat of who I am and the need to perform and the few times that he has felt the heat of who he is and the need to perform, is exactly when we have chatted. He understands that not everyone can understand what we are going through and it just hits the right note.”