Sunil Chhetri has scored 62 goals for India in his career. (Source: PTI File)
After Indian skipper, Sunil Chhetri scored a goal in the Intercontinental Cup fixture against New Zealand on Friday, he equaled former Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to become the third player in the list of all-time international goal scorers in football among currently active players. The 33-year old has scored 62 goals for his side, while the Argentina great Lionel Messi has scored 64 goals for his country. Topping the charts is Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 81 goals for his country.
But on being questioned regarding the statistics, the Indian footballer said it is unfair to compare him with the two “world class” players. Speaking in an interview to India Today, he said, “I don’t take it seriously. It’s not even fair. The two players who are above me are completely world stars. I am a big fan of [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo. There is a massive difference between them and us. There is no comparison at all.”
The captain further added that he is happy that he has scored 60-odd goals for his country. “I am just happy that I could score 60-plus goals for my country. I just see and look at it for five seconds and forget about it,” he said.
Chhetri, who recently launched an emotional appeal to the football fans across the country to visit the stadiums to watch the match, expressed his gratitude to the fans for their response during the on-going Intercontinental Cup in Mumbai. “It just feels good when you play for your country and fans come out. We are thankful to everyone in Mumbai and to those who have come out to support us. It feels different when you see the buzz and the whole stadium packed supporting your country. It gives you that added motivation,” he said.
He further added that Indian football needs the support of fans to improve in the future. “We are really happy as a team that we got that in Mumbai and I really hope that in future when we play, we get that kind of support. Our standards are not quite there but if we don’t get the support maybe we will never get there,” he said.
On being questioned about the upcoming final against Kenya on Sunday, the Indian forward said that it would be amazing to win the trophy for the country. “It will be great to win the Cup. Especially because we are playing at home and you are doing well. I think we have played really good football apart from the last game where we couldn’t win. I think the boys are quite confident and we don’t have any major injuries after the three games. Everyone is eager to play that final and indeed we will have that support also. We should go to the ground and win that trophy for the country,” he said.