Intercontinental Cup 2018: Sunil Chhetri rubbishes comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
3rd June ’18: Sunil Chhetri, the captain of the Indian National Football team, addressed the media ahead of his 100th appearance for the national team at the Mumbai Football Arena. India takes on Kenya on June 4, 2018, at 8:00 PM IST in their second match of the Intercontinental Cup. Chhetri also rubbished comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, ultimately elaborating on the video he tweeted after the last match.
Sunil Chhetri currently sits as the 3rd highest active goalscorer for a national team after he scored a hat-trick on Saturday against Chinese Taipei. As a result of the hat-trick, the Indian captain has drawn level with David Villa (59), who is not currently within the national reckoning. He now stands only behind the two biggest superstars of modern football - Cristiano Ronaldo (81) and Lionel Messi (64).
Chhetri was quizzed whether he might try hard to get on the scoresheet due to the fact that he is just 5 goals away from equaling Messi's record. However, the Indian skipper showed why is he considered as a legend among the Indian football fans with this apt reply:
"That’s something (the statistics of active goalscorers) I don’t take seriously and would request whole of my country to not to as well. Enjoy the fact that I try to score as many goals as possible for my country, but those statistics shouldn’t be taken seriously," he said.
"I myself see so many memes and stories about it (comparison with Messi and Ronaldo). They are just feel good things for 5-6 seconds. Relax, enjoy, go to work, do your job and forget about it. That’s what I follow. When I see(those memes), I feel great that I am on the same picture with Ronaldo and Messi and then forget about it, that's about it. I don’t take it too seriously." Chhetri added.
Incidentally, on June 2, Sunil Chhetri tweeted a very emotional video (watch below) that pleaded all the football fans in Mumbai to come and watch the Intercontinental Cup. The tournament opener saw a very poor turnout on Saturday, where Chinese Taipei were thrashed 5-0 by India. The video went viral within a few hours and several eminent personalities like Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Anupam Kher, and Rahul Dravid among others, came out in support of it and requested the football fans in the country to get behind the Blue Tigers.
Speaking about the video Chhetri said "I never knew it was going to have such a huge impact. My phone got hanged. I had 1000 messages on my WhatsApp. It’s unbelievable and surreal, that so many people joined it and took notice of it. However, I never anticipated so much as it was something random after the match ended, very emotional and straight from the heart."
Chhetri further clarified,"There were no hidden agendas or any other thing else related to the video and it was just a few words from my heart. It was not something which I discussed with my teammates before doing. The video was taken in one take without any drama whatsoever. It’s great that people joined in. I would like to thank Virat (Kohli) and all others who stood up for the cause. It was a sweet gesture and I thank all of those who helped me spread the word."
Elaborating on how he came up with the video, Sunil Chhetri had some special words for the Kerala Blasters fan.
"After the match, we all went to celebrate with the Blue Pilgrims and few Mumbai fans. I was talking to Sandesh (Jhingan) about how few clubs like KBFC, BFC, Chennai etc. are doing very well. When you go to these places to play an ISL match, you feel - yes, this is how the ambience should be. Topmost is Kerala Blasters where the atmosphere is terrific. That’s how a player wants to feel. You can’t hear your teammates. The atmosphere takes everything from you and gives those 90 minutes to live."
He continued,"It’s not like we can’t play in front of an empty stadium, but it's just that we think the (national) 'jerseys' should be enough to bring the fans to the stadium. Mumbai Football Arena is a 10 thousand-seater stadium and I thought it would be great to play on -- not because of me but because of the blue jersey that we wear. But somehow we couldn’t feel that way and that’s why the whole thing came about."
"I hope people take the video in the right way and don’t blow it out of the proportion." Chettri signed off.