Indian football legend and former national team skipper Baichung Bhutia was the first professional footballer from the Indian sub-continent to play for a professional European club, when he joined English 2nd Division side Bury FC in 1999. Star striker Sunil Chhetri has taken over the baton from his former skipper and Baichung feels that Sunil can achieve a lot at Sporting Clube de Portugal, if he is mentally strong to face the challenge.
“It’s a mental thing. It’s about how strong you are in mind. He has got the game. But 70 per cent of the game is about mind,” Baichung told. “He is a confident guy, he has to believe in himself to do well.”
Sunil has gained vast experiences during various trials in Europe and his spell with MLS outfit Sporting Kansas City in 2010. The 27-year-old India star is now on his way to join the B Team of the Portuguese giants popularly known as Sporting Lisbon. Baichung is optimistic about Sunil’s chances to go far in the Iberian country.
“Whether you sign for B, C or D team, if you perform well there is no limit for it. I think the great thing is that he has got the opportunity to play. If he does well in B, he can move up to A,” India’s record international stated.
Baichung has been the lone role model of Indian football for a generation of footballers, fans and future talents. But Sunil is now at the verge to become the second Indian star to have a major impact to India’s football future.
“He is going to make a huge impact. Signing for such a great club is the first step, performing well will be the next,” said Baichung. “It’s absolutely a great day for Sunil and the Indian football. I hope Sunil grabs the opportunity.”
Talking about Sporting Lisbon, Baichung added: “It’s a great club and has produced some of the great footballers. Hope he does well. It will benefit the future Indian footballers.”
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