When we speak of modern day Indian football, the first name that comes to mind is Sunil Chhetri. Such is the magnitude of the aura that surrounds the Indian football skipper. The striker is easily India’s best footballer today, and he is also India’s all-time top scorer with 50 goals from 87 appearances. One of the few Indian players to have attracted a lot of attention from foreign clubs, he has had stints with Kansas City Wizards and Sporting Clube de Portugal B, while also piquing the interest of clubs like Leeds United, Celtic and Queens Park Rangers.
The second season of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) will see the first ever Player Auction on July 10th and Sunil Chhetri will very much be among the 10 players to be auctioned. When Chhetri was asked how he felt about being a part of the ISL Auction, he said, “It’s absolutely exciting to be part of a tournament that has captured the nation’s imagination. And I, for one, am happy to be part of something that is creating just the buzz football in India needs. It’s a stint I am looking forward to and it feels really good to be part of the auction.”
Chhetri was clearly impressed by a lot of elements of the ISL last year. “There were so many things that caught my attention in the first season. The fact that some really big names came down to be part of the tournament and that our Indian boys could rub shoulders with them was nice to see. The production and marketing of the League was impressive to say the least. It was a great platform for footballers in the country to become household names, something that has been missing for a while,” he said.
“There was a nice blend of foreign players and Indian boys who stepped up and dished out impressive performances. Elano and [Bernard] Mendy showed the kind of quality they still possess. There was [Iain] Hume who was hardworking and impressive,” the India captain said of the players who caught his eye.
The ISL boasts of a number of celebrity owners, and when Chhetri was asked to pick his favourite, he asserted, “To be honest, it’s difficult to choose one among them. I am a big fan of all of them, (and) it’s great that celebrities like them, who are from fields other than football, have come out in support of the game in a big way. It has surely helped the sport get the attention it needs.”
The Indian talisman is not even giving any thought to which team he will eventually end up playing for. “I’ll leave that to the auction! All of the teams have that one thing that lets me draw a connect with. At this moment, I’m just happy to be playing the tournament. Whatever team I end up playing for, I will be giving my 100% to them,” he said coolly.
Sunil Chhetri will feature in the first ever Hero ISL Player Auction on July 10th, and he will definitely be a quality signing for whichever team that manages to sign him.
-INDIAN SUPER LEAGUE Media