Bengaluru India football captain Sunil Chhetri has revealed Sporting Lisbon head coach had told him to "get lost to B team" as he was not good enough when he joined them in 2012. Chhetri was roped in by the Portuguese side on a three-year contract but he returned home after completing nine months.
"After one week, I was told by the head coach 'you are not good enough, get lost to B team'. He was right. The pace in Sporting Lisbon A team was too fast for me (compared to) when I was playing in Indian leagues," Chhetri was quoted as saying by the indiansuperleague.com.
"I gave a shot for nine months, played five games, scoring zero goal. There was a 4 or 5 million release clause. I was to be there for three years, but I told the coach I want to go back to India, and nobody is going to pay this amount, just release me.
They were really nice," said Chhetri, 35. On his stint with Kansas City Wizards in the United States in 2010, India's record goal scorer said: "I played 6- 7 friendly games, scored two hat-tricks and a brace and I just thought 'I am going to start'.
But we use to play 4-2- 3-1 with a lone striker and (Kei) Kamara used to play. He is a big African lad and he was always chosen before me. So, I did not get the chance in first 4-5 games. I was so sad; I was not used to sitting on the bench.
"Then I had a lovely preseason where I scored 14 goals in 7 games. I thought I am going to start. But it did not happen for five games and I just started deteriorating. It was more mental than physical," said Chhetri who is the second-best scorer in international matches from among active players with 72 goals.
Asked what legacy he will leave behind once he retires, Chhetri said, "If anyone remembers me, it's about my hard work. When it is time for me to go and somebody else comes, I hope he comes because he is better than me, not because I did not work hard. "When I was growing up, I was always the talented boy, the skilful one.
But that leads you to nowhere. All of you who are skilful if you think that is enough, it's not, not anymore. It is so fast growing, so competitive, so physical and so tactical, you have to work hard, you have to be the most hardworking guy."