Intercontinental Cup 2018: 'It's just that I don't celebrate like Robin Singh', says Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri
Indian captain Sunil Chhetri scored his third international career hat-trick in India’s 5-0 humiliation of Chinese Taipei in the Intercontinental Cup, but the living legend of India, who became the third highest active goalscorers in the world, didn’t break into any kind of fancy celebration and rather folded his hands, showcasing a terrific gesture to the fans.
The game at the Mumbai Football Arena, that marked 99th appearance for Chhetri, who netted his 59th international goal to bring up the hat-trick in the second half; is now, just behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the active goalscorers list.
Even after achieving this terrific feat Chhetri’s humble celebration instigated an enquiry about the reason behind it. The Indian skipper replied, “A goal at the Asian Games, at the Asian Cup, a goal against Bahrain that might help us to qualify –these are the goals that might invoke a more wild celebration. I may jump, hug, shout and come and hug somebody, I don’t know."
"Many people have asked me this why I don’t celebrate, and to say again, I am extremely happy when I score. I do not take it for granted. I am very fortunate to score so many goals for my club and country and I am really fortunate to play for teams which want me to help, in scoring goals. It’s just that I don’t celebrate outrageously like Robin Singh but I am very very happy from inside,” he added.
“Right now though, Udanta comes to my mind. He is taking an ice-bath right now and I am very fond of him. He scored his first goal today; so I went up and said 'Congratulations, kid'; he said ,'Thank you, bhai' and I said, ‘58 to go’. So I take my goals very seriously and the day I score against Bahrain and we qualify, trust me, I will jump,” added the 33-year-old.
Earlier Chinese Taipei coach Gary John White stated that Sunil Chhetri can inspire his youngsters and can make them realise what a senior player is supposed to do. However, when Chhetri was requested to reflect on this possibility of young players across India and the world looking up to him as a role model and as a source of inspiration; he simply stated that he is not at the ‘stature’ to demand such adoration.
“I don’t look at my career as someone to follow because I have been busy worrying about my own stuff right now. I don’t think I am at that stature that people, especially from other countries would follow me. If they do, then I am obliged and privileged,” he said.
“We are talking like this because we won 5-0. If we had lost then you guys would have been abusing me, so I have this stuff to think about. Maybe in 20 years when I would have retired, we can think about this and how many people I have inspired or motivated.”
The Indian skipper also had some special words of appreciation for his partner, upfront, Jeje Lalpekhlua; who alone, assisted 2 out of three goals that Chhetri scored. “I think (the relationship on the pitch) it comes from the fact that we have played so many games together and the fact that he is supremely talented. He is very experienced, knowledgeable and works so hard on his game.”
“He is an absolute dream to play with. He is somebody who I respect a lot and is one of our best players. So it is not difficult to combine with him and I have done my best to help him and he does the same. He is so strong and always working hard; which makes my job easier and I could contribute more due to it,” he concluded.