Siliguri: Two days after equalling Bhaichung Bhutia's record of 42 international goals, India captain Sunil Chhetri reminisced about his long stint with the national team.
Chhetri spoke about his emotions, thanked his teammates and recollected his first call to the national camp.
Q: What are your emotions having equalled Bhutia's record of 42 international goals?
A: I don't have any emotions. I consider myself as being lucky to have played for India. It's a rare honour, very few have achieved it. Right from my first international match to the last friendly against the Philippines, I have never felt any urge to beat anyone or chase any landmark. I never planned for any such thing. I am just happy to have scored against the Philippines.
Q: How do you try to guide the youngsters in the squad?
A: The same manner in which I was drafted in as an integral member of the squad. At present, there isn't any hierarchy much as there wasn't any hierarchy when I joined. Whatever I learnt from my seniors, I try to pass it on to the youngsters. I was lucky to have played against a lovely bunch of players. If 10 years from now, the present set of youngsters go out and say that they were lucky to play with me, I'd know that I was successful in my endeavour.
Q: What has coach Wim Koevermans brought to the team?
A: The new style which we are getting used to fast. Look at our practice sessions and matches and you'll discover that it's all about passing at high intensity. We are a well-knit team and to attain the level we aspire to, the boys need to be given time. Obviously, if most clubs follow the same philosophy of play, the national team will benefit.
Q: Define your journey in 2013.
A: It has been a mixed year. With the national team, we couldn't achieve the desired result. Despite being the much better team in the AFC Challenge Cup and in the SAFF Championship, we ended up on the losing side. We couldn't convert our chances. We under-performed ourselves. At the club level, I won the last edition of the I-League with Churchill Brothers and am fully enjoying my stint with Bengaluru FC.
Q: Do you have any more personal targets?
A: I prefer to take it step by step. People expect me to score every time I take the field. So I always feel the urge to improve with every training session. On the field, I keep challenging myself. That's the reason I haven't stuck to one club. On the field, the challenge has increased as I'm playing in different positions. In 2013, I've played as a striker, a withdrawn striker and also on the left flank.