Captaincy changed Chhetri’s attitude towards the game
Following the retirement of football great Bhaichung Bhutia after the 2011 Asian Cup, the then coach Bob Houghton asked Chhetri to lead the youth team in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers to be held in Malaysia two months later and made him the captain.
Sunil Chhetri used to sit back and mock senior players in his early days of international career but all that changed when he was made the captain in 2011 as he felt that he needed to lead by example for the team. Following the retirement of football great Bhaichung Bhutia after the 2011 Asian Cup, the then coach Bob Houghton asked Chhetri to lead the youth team in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers to be held in Malaysia two months later and made him the captain.
“The day I was given the (captain’s) armband, it was done by Bob Houghton in Malaysia, that’s when the pressure came immediately,” Chhetri told ‘Let There Be Sports’ show on ‘Disney Plus Hotstar’. Because I was a backbencher. “He said,” I, Steven (Diaz) and (NP) Pradeep used to make fun of senior players, I was like that. Everything was a joke and I was naughty. “But when I wore the armband, I started sitting in the front for the first three-four matches,” Chhetri said.
The 38-year-old footballer said, “I was feeling the pressure now that I have become the captain. Now I had to think not only about myself but about the team. Chhetri’s last major tournament for India could be the 2024 Asian Cup in Doha. Chhetri made his debut for India in 2005 in a friendly match against Pakistan in Quetta. He scored the goal in this match which helped India draw the match 1-1. At that time the coach of the Indian team was Sukhwinder Singh. Chhetri said he changed his approach to the game after becoming captain because he needed to lead by example.
“Earlier the mindset was that I am Sunil Chhetri – my dribble, my pass, my cross, my goal. But now you were thinking about the team apart from yourself, on and off the field as well.” Chhetri said, “And earlier when I used to force myself to think like this, I used to get scared. . I told myself to be comfortable, still have to do the same thing. Be a good example on and off the field.
Disclaimer:Prabhasakshi has not edited this news. This news has been published from PTI-language feed.
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