I’m better than Ronaldo, Messi in terms of representing national team: Indian footballer

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Argentine footballer Lionel Messi (left), Indian footballer Sunil Chhetri and Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. — Reuters/Instagram
Argentine footballer Lionel Messi (left), Indian footballer Sunil Chhetri and Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. — Reuters/Instagram

Sunil Chhetri, who is an Indian footballer and the captain of his team, believes he is better than star players Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi when it comes to representing the national side. 

According to Hindustan Times, Chhetri has been captaining for over a decade and is one of the most decorated skippers of all time. He is on the top 10 list of highest goal scorers alongside Ronaldo and Messi. 

“There’s no comparison with the rest of the nine names on the list. I mean, I am a fan of players like Ronaldo and Messi, just like so many other fans of them. There’s just no comparison, and I don’t take this list, or whatever this list is, too seriously. But, yes, when it comes to representing the national team, I can be even better than them,” Chhetri added.  

“Right now, international football is such that no one knows what will happen, and underdogs, too, can win! You just never know what is going to happen in football. That’s why we have to give our best, and that’s a message I am trying to send to the rest of the team,” he also said.

Chettri helped his team lift the Bangabandhu SAFF Championship 2023 which happened last week. 

Speaking about the tournament, the footballer told Hindustan Times: “”It has been great, the support, right from day 1 (of the tournament). On the pitch, the way fans were and encouraged us throughout the game was something special and something magical. Also, the fact that Kuwait and Lebanon — who were India’s opponents in the final and the semi-finals, respectively — are not exactly SAFF teams. They were invited, and they are really good quality sides. So beating them, competitions like them, also felt great.” 

He also talked about a change in the attitudes of the fans towards the game, saying that both the team and fans stay cautious and real. 

“There was never a problem with the match-going fans, but yes, there has been an increase in the number of people who have started talking about football, and I think that’s a really good thing. I can sense the atmosphere is changing. But at the same time, I know we have jumped up a few ranks, we still have a long way to go. We have to just keep up the good work and stay focused on where we want to reach now,” he added.

Speaking about his further plans, Chhetri said that he is aiming to perform well in the upcoming Asian Cup. 

“The Asian Cup is like the World Cup for us. It is right at the very top of our list, and therefore, performing our best there is paramount. I don’t mean to put this pressure on the boys, but we should be qualifying for the Asian Cup every time,” he said.

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