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India's Chhetri says no comparisons with Messi after breaking Argentine's record

Reuters/PTI/New Delhi
Filed on June 9, 2021
Indian footballer Sunil Chhetri. (AFP file)

Chhetri, 36, scored all two goals in India’s victory in the qualifying match for the 2022 Fifa World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup


India’s Sunil Chhetri said on Wednesday comparisons with Lionel Messi are misplaced after overtaking him in number of goals, and added he remains a huge fan of the Argentine star.

Chhetri surpassed Messi’s tally of 72 international goals in India’s 2-0 win over Bangladesh on Monday to stand behind top-ranked Cristiano Ronaldo (103) among active players.

“The fact is there is no comparison whatsoever (with Messi),” Chhetri, who has scored 74 international goals, said from Doha.

“When anyone sees those (top goal scorer) chart, be happy for five seconds as an Indian and that’s about it. Forget about me and Messi because the whole world, including me, is a fan of Messi.”

Chhetri, 36, scored all two goals in India’s victory in the qualifying match for the 2022 Fifa World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

With 73 strikes Ali Mabkhout, of the UAE, is also above Messi — a six-time Ballon d’Or winner widely regarded as the greatest player of the modern era.

India, who are ranked 105th in the Fifa team rankings, are already out of the race to qualify for the World Cup but can make it to the Asian Cup in China.

Meanwhile, Chhetri says he is not thinking of retiring from the game yet.

“I’m not thinking about hanging my up boots. I’m not arrogant here. I am enjoying my football. I have never been fitter than now. I am 36 but the zeal and hunger of playing for the country is still there,” Chhetri said.

“A lot of people ask I am 36 and how long I will continue. I am not bothered. People will have opinions and I am fine with that. The day I don’t enjoy my football, I will go, I will not be there.”

He said with age, he is more aware of his game than before and knows exactly what works for him

“The only difficult part is the motivation. The older you get and more you achieve, the motivation goes down.”





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