Even though Chinese Taipei coach Gary White feels that the young players in his team will look up to Sunil Chhetri someday, the star India striker asserted that he has to improve a lot before he can attain the stature where international footballers will aim to emulate him. "I feel I haven't yet reached that stature where international footballers will look up to me," Chhetri said. "At this moment, I am more concerned about myself and my career. Maybe 20 years from now with me having retired, I may reflect back whether I have inspired someone or not. But right now, it's too premature," the India skipper added. Having scored 59 goals in 99 international matches, Chhetri became the first-ever Indian to have scored three hat-tricks in international football during the 5-0 thrashing of Chinese Taipei on Friday night.
The former Mohun Bagan striker thus surpassed Appalaraju and another former Mohun Bagan star IM Vijayan, both of whom have two hat-tricks to their credit.
Speaking about his telepathy with fellow striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, Chhetri who has scored 15 goals in 25 matches under current India coach Stephen Constantine, attributed it to the duo having played together for a lengthy period.
"The understanding comes from the fact that we have played many games together. Jeje is a supremely talented player. He really works hard on his game and is one of our best players. I try my best to help him and vice versa," Chhetri said.
"Two of my goals today (against Chinese Taipei) came off Jeje's pass. He is a very strong player who can hold defenders. My job becomes easier when he is around," he added.