Sunil Chhetri: ‘I am a huge fan of Messi’

Sunil Chhetri, the talismanic Indian football captain, stated on Saturday that Lionel Messi’s captivating runs on a football pitch can make him happy and that comparing him to the Argentine genius is like living in a “stupid cocoon.”

“When I am sad, I watch Messi’s videos and it makes me happy, so when I meet him, I will tell him I am a fan (of him), give him a nice handshake, and that is about it,” Chhetri said in an interview with AIFF to mark 16 years of his international career.

When asked about what he would do if he meets Messi, he said “I would say ‘Hi, I am Sunil Chhetri and I am a big fan’. I will not trouble him. If I meet him, I will be happy, if I don’t, I am still good.”

36-year-old Sunil Chhetri has dismissed any comparisons to Messi, whom he has surpassed to become the second-highest international goal-scorer among active players.

With his second goal in India’s 2-0 win against Bangladesh in a World Cup qualifying round, Chhetri (74 goals) surpassed Messi (72 goals).

Chhetri first wore the India shirt on this day 16 years ago in a match against Pakistan at Quetta, under then-head coach Sukhwinder Singh.

Since then, he has appeared in 117 games for India, scoring 74 goals, which is the second-highest total for an active international player. He’s only three goals short of the legendary Pele’s total.

There were stars like Bhaichung Bhutia, Renedy Singh, and Mahesh Gawli in the national team when Chhetri emerged on the scene.
He’s the oldest player on the team now, at 36, and he feels lonely among the youth sometimes.

He also said that he still takes advice from former captain Bhutia who has a huge influence on him.

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