KATHMANDU, May 11: Sunil Chhetri, the skipper of Indian national football team, described Nepal as his second home upon his arrival in Kathmandu on Thursday.
Chhetri, 27, of Nepali origin is in Kathmandu with his I-League team McDowells Mohun Bagan for a friendly match against Nepal Police Club to be held on Saturday.
Chhetri, son of Khadga Bahadur Chhetri and Sushila Pandey of Charali Jhapa became an Indian citizen after his father joined the Indian Army and stayed there.
Chheri used to visit Jhapa time and again during his schooldays in Indai. “I used to visit Nepal each year during summer vacation. But I haven’t been able to visit Nepal as frequently in the last ten years after I got busy in football,” Chhetri said. “Though we became Indian citizen after my fathr joined the Indain army we still have many relatives in Nepal.”
“I don’t feel like an outsider coming to my parent’s home. I get huge admiration and love from Nepali football fans. Thus it is always encouraging for me to play in Nepal,” Chhetri said.
According to Chhetri, his mother Sushila was a former member of the Nepali national women’s team. “My mother played for the U-17 national team along with her twin sister Jamuna Pandey,” a proud Chhetri said.
Chhetri’s performance in the AFC Challenge Cup held a couple of months ago in Nepal had failed to meet the expectations of his Nepali fans as he could not score a single goal. However, he finished as the highest scorer in the SAFF Championship held about six months ago in India in which team emerged champion.
“I had injured my ligaments during the Challenge Cup, but it is not justifiable to make such ecuse. In fact we could not play well. We got great support from Nepali fans and I would like to thank them for that,” Chhetri said.
Along with Ali Asfaq of Maldives, Chhetri rates Rabin Shrestha and Rohit Chand of Nepal among the top players of South Asia. “ I wish Chand gives continuity to playing career in the I-League,” Chhetri said, adding, “If Chand remains in India for at least five years its shall pave the way for the other Nepali players as well.”