Chhetri signs up with Ronaldo's former club Sporting Lisbon

Discussion in 'Sports' started by Sabir, Jul 6, 2012.

  1. Sabir

    Sabir DFI TEAM Senior Member

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    In an inspirational move for Indian football, which has long struggled to make its presence felt on the world stage, Indian captain Sunil Chhetri on Thursday signed up with Sporting Lisbon, the legendary Portuguese club that has given the world the likes of Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani.

    Players from the club's 'B' team, of which Chhetri will be a part, play in the second division of the league. The stint will offer Chhetri a chance to imbibe enhanced training techniques besides rubbing shoulders with superior-quality coaches and players. Chhetri, who has a one-year contract, is expected to fly out to Portugal in another two weeks.

    "I feel like a 14-year-old," a beaming Chhetri, who turns 28 in August, said, "I'm really looking forward to it." His agent divulged that the main aim was to make sure the player got "regular football".

    Chhetri has had foreign experience before, having previously undergone trials for Queens Park Rangers and Coventry and played for Kansas City Sporting. Chhetri had trained at the Sporting Lisbon ground with the national team before the start of the Asia Cup and said that he needed to prove himself and see what he could achieve.

    "I just want to see how much I can achieve there. I want to take each day as it comes. There's only one thing on my mind that I have to go and train there. We trained there for one-and-a-half months with the national side," Chhetri said.

    Though the financial details of the deal are yet to be divulged, the club's vice president Aureliano Oliveira Neves, while presenting the jersey to Chhetri, said, "Our purpose together with the Indian football federation is to help design the right path for increasing football in India. Signing Chhetri is our first sign of commitment to Indian football."

    According to an official involved with the deal, Chhetri had offers from some other European clubs too but eventually chose the Portuguese club. "Coming from a country that is ranked No. 163 in the world and going to the No. 5 nation, it's a huge opportunity for me," said an emotional Chhetri. "My priority is to train hard and learn. It is up to the coach and the management to decide where I could fit in. I assure I won't leave any stone unturned. I want to make sure that when I turn 40, I don't have to say that I could have done better. I'll do everything that is humanly possible."

    All India Football Federation president Praful Patel said it was a great start for Indian football's ambitions to have an European presence. "It's a milestone for Indian football. When Sunil goes to Portugal, he will not only be an ambassador but he will also bring the focus of the international footballing committee to India."

    Sporting Lisbon is one of three big clubs in Portugal, with Benfica and FC Porto being the other two. The club has won 18 Primera Liga titles and 19 Portuguese Cup trophies. Sporting, though, have won one European trophy (the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 1963-1964). They came closest to lifting one of the most coveted trophies in Europe when they finished runners-up in UEFA Cup (2004-2005).

    Chhetri will thus become only the third Indian footballer to play in Europe following in the footsteps of bare-footed Mohammed Abdul Salim, who won plenty of hearts doing duty for Celtic FC in 1937 and Baichung Bhutia who had a three-year stint at Bury Football Club in England's first division.

    Chhetri signs up with Ronaldo's former club Sporting Lisbon - The Times of India
     
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  3. Sabir

    Sabir DFI TEAM Senior Member

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