One of India’s most celebrated footballers and Captain of the National Team, Sunil Chhetri shared about the struggles he had while playing in Kolkata, very early in his career as playing there was not that easy, as he once even thought to quit the sport.
At the age of 17, Chettri started his career as a professional footballer when he was signed by Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan in the year 2002. Although, it was difficult for a teenager to handle this much pressure and he was not different.
Chhetri was quoted as saying by Indiansuperleague.com, “The first year was good. I used to get 20 minutes or 30 minutes game time in matches and people used to call me next Bhaichung Bhutia and what not. But football in Kolkata teaches you very quickly.”
In addition to this he said, “The crowd turns hostile when you start losing and there was times I used to cry . losing is not an option in Kolkata. Its not easy, a lot of players even quit. There was an instance which shook me and I even called my father back home once and said that I don’t think I should do this.”
But Sunil did not quit and his family supported him and backed him to continue his career in football.
Taking about this, the 35 year old said, “My family supported me a lot and my father used to come to my place time to time and it make things easier by just talking to him. The stories continue and here I am.”
Later, he settled with his family in New Delhi as his father was in his battalion and mother was in Nepal’s national football team.
The second-highest scorer in the world among active players said “ My biggest competitor was my mum. I used to try to beat her at Chinese checkers, chess, carom, volleyball, badminton, football, wrestling.”
“I was lucky to have the likes of Bhutia and Renedy Singh, who help him in my early days in the national team by protecting me from unnecessary pressure” said chhetri, who made his international debut in 2005 against Pakistan.
Remembering about the people who helped Chettri, he said, “Bhaichung, Mahesh Gawli, Deepak Mondal, Renedy Singh, Samir Naik, Surkumar Singh, Climax Lawrence are the people who protected and helped me a lot.”
“I am the player who scored 70 odd goal in national team and it happened all because of them who never interfered and always wanted me to score more, from the time I started playing and played my first debut match against Pakistan in pakistan till now, no one ever stopped me to score,” Sunil concluded.