India football captain Sunil Chhetri spoken about hot the Sporting head coach told him to “get lost to B team” as he was not good enough when he signed for the Portuguese outfit in 2012.
Chhetri was signed up on a three-year contract by the Lisbon side eight years ago but only lasted nine miserable months before moving on.
“After one week, I was told by the head coach: ‘You are not good enough, get lost to B team.’” Chhetri told indiansuperleague.com.
“He was right. The pace in the Sporting A team was too fast for me (compared to) when I was playing in Indian leagues,” “I gave a shot for nine months, played five games, scoring zero goal. There was a 4 or 5 million release clause. I was to be there for three years but I told the coach I want to go back to India and nobody is going to pay this amount, just release me. They were really nice.”
On his stint with Kansas City Wizards in the United States in 2010, India’s record goalscorer, 35, said: “I played six or seven friendly games, scored two hat-tricks and a brace and I just thought ‘I am going to start’. But we use to play 4-2-3-1 with a lone striker and (Kei) Kamara used to play. He is a big African lad and he was always chosen before me. So, I did not get the chance in the fist four or five games. I was so sad, I was not used to sitting on the bench.
“Then I had a lovely pre-season where I scored 14 goals in seven games. I thought I am going to start. But it did not happen for five games and I just started deteriorating. It was more mental than physical.”
Chhetri is the second best scorer in international matches from among active players with 72 goals.
Asked what legacy he will leave behind once he retires, Chhetri said, “If anyone remembers me, it’s about my hard work. When it is time for me to go and somebody else comes, I hope he comes because he is better than me, not because I did not work hard.
“When I was growing up, I was always the talented boy, the skilful one. But that leads you to nowhere. All of you who are skilful if you think that is enough, it’s not, not anymore. It is so fast growing, so competitive, so physical and so tactical, you have to work hard, you have to be the most hardworking guy.”