More youngsters should aim to go out as soon as possible – Sunil Chhetri on Indian players playing abroad

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Sunil Chhetri shares his views on playing abroad for the players and gives insights on his own stint abroad.

Playing abroad?!!! A question that comes to the mind of every passionate Indian football supporter because we want to see our players improve by playing at a better level. A few Indian players including our Captain, Leader, legend have had some stints abroad. However, these stints have been limited to training with little or no game time. While some players don’t get much playing time others chose to return back early during their stint due to monetary issues. But, these training sessions prove to be fruitful as the facilities are better and the players they train with are the ones who end up playing for the top European clubs. So, after returning to Indian these players are much better than they were before going.

In a recent episode of 420 Grams on NewsClick’s youtube channel we witnessed an interview with our Captain, Leader, and Legend Sunil Chhetri. He was asked about his thoughts on playing abroad and his advice to the upcoming players. Here is the advice the captain had to give to the younger generations and his thoughts on the process through his own stint:

I think right now more and more youngsters should aim to go out at 10,11,12,13 etc., as soon as possible. When I went to sporting I was 25. I was training with players like Eric Dier who was 18 and others who are in the best clubs right now. I was training with the B team which was arguably better than the A-team. The training was enjoyable. You become sharper, you become fitter and you don’t even realize it because you are training with the top boys. Although I was not playing on Saturday and Sunday, I was training well. I can’t suggest this to players because it’s their life. Whenever a youngster wants to go out of the country to a better league, it doesn’t have to be only European but try to go early because the more time you delay your basic fundamental training has already been done. So it’s easier to go when you are young. But now on the other hand, if you get an offer, supposing Gurpreet Singh Sandhu gets an offer from a J League club, you should go. Although right now it’s difficult because it’s just 4 foreigners in the league so no one would take an Indian. I hope it happens in the future.

If I would have gone to Sporting at 15 with the 4-year deal I had I would have closed my eyes and stayed there for 4 years. I wasn’t a starter abroad but when I came back I was a different player. Training with better players will always improve you. But signing where and how much you can take the risk, it depends on the individual. So that’s why I always suggest going at a young age if you get an opportunity because money is not an agenda. You are not concerned with a lot of things in your life. You just want to play and concentrate. And if a guy in India gets a chance to go to Everton or Sporting or Barcelona he will be a different player in 4 years.” – Chhetri concluded.

Sunil Chhetri training during his stint at Sporting CP

Among the players who have had stints abroad, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, the current national team goalkeeper had the most successful stint at Norwegian club Stabæk FC. He featured in the cup and league games and also became the first Indian player to play the Europa League when the club played the qualification rounds.

More youngsters should aim to go out as soon as possible - Sunil Chhetri on Indian players playing abroad gurpreet fb
Gurpreet Singh during his stint at Stabaek

The story of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu along with Chhetri and other players including the women’s should be an inspiration for the younger generation to play abroad. We would like to urge the younger generation to go and play abroad as soon as possible. This will help the players in their own development and would also help better the national team performances.


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