Ace Indian men’s football striker Sunil Chhetri said that the hype around him surpassing Argentina legend Lionel Messi's tally of 72 goals for his country is misplaced and "the truth is that there is absolutely no comparison between me and him".
Chhetri scored a brace in India's 2-0 win over Bangladesh in the FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifier match in Doha earlier this week, which took his tally to 74 goals for the country, two more than what Messi has scored for Argentina.
"There is a lot of talk, even in my family WhatsApp group, and I tell everyone the same thing. The truth is that there is absolutely no comparison between me and him. Along with everyone else in the world, I am also a huge fan (of Messi). There is no comparison whatsoever," said the India team captain, who is preparing for the last FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifier engagement, against Afghanistan, on June 15.
"I am just happy that I get an opportunity to score for my country, and that is about it. When I see my name there, I feel proud for five seconds that I could do something for my country. I don't get into the stupid cocoon of comparing myself with all those great players. There are thousands of players who are better than me, and all of them are also fans of Lionel Messi. That's the gap," said Chhetri.
The Indian captain made his debut for the national team on 12 June in 2005 against Pakistan in Quetta. It was the forward's goal that helped India secure a 1-1 draw against their rivals.
“It’s been amazing. To play for the number of years for the National Team, to represent the country the number of times I have, it's been outstanding. It is beyond a dream. It’s a wonderful journey, that would not have been possible without my family, friends, my close group, the players I've played with, the coaches I’ve trained under, the physios, the doctors – and I say this because all of them are equally important for whatever I’ve achieved.”
On how he would greet Messi if he were to meet the Argentinian star, Chhetri said, "I'd say, 'Hi, I'm Sunil Chhetri, and I'm a big fan'. I will not trouble him. I'm a fan, but all the people I'm a fan of, I don't trouble them much. If I meet him, I'll be happy, if I don't, I'm still good. When I'm sad, I watch Messi's videos, and it makes me happy, so when I meet him, I'll tell him I'm a fan, give him a nice handshake, and that's about it."
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