Sunil Chhetri: To sign for an I-League club and be a part of the national team is more important to me right now

The Indian national team skipper explained his decision to join the I-League newbie after putting pen to paper to a two-year deal...

GOALBY   RAHUL BALI     Follow @rahulatma on twitter

With the protracted dispute between the I-League clubs and the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) commercial and marketing partners not ending any time soon, Sunil Chhetri decided to ply his trade in the country’s top flight in order to play the game throughout the season and thereby not hurt his national team aspirations by only playing for, by his own admission, 70 days.

On Friday, he cleared the air on his future by signing for Jindal Steel Works (JSW).

“I would have loved to be a part of IMG-Reliance but it’s just that they, the clubs and the federation haven’t come to a conclusion. And for me to wait wouldn’t have been sensible because all the clubs have started their pre-season.  It was very sweet of JSW to wait for a long time probably because of me. But it was high time as I couldn’t make the clubs wait more. The whole country has started their pre-season right now and JSW also have to start,” Chhetri told Goal.

He explained that he isn’t against IMG-Reliance’s initiative but added that the priority for him lies elsewhere. He mentioned that if IMG-Reliance are still keen on his services, they might as well contact the club in future given that he is committed to JSW for the next two seasons.

“(The idea behind) choosing an I-League club over IMG-Reliance was that they haven’t come to a conclusion (on the stand-off) yet. If IMG-Reliance wants me, they might buy me from the club; but that is something IMG-Reliance and the club have to decide. I thought to sign for a club and be a part of the national team was more important to me right now. I would love to be a part of IMG-Reliance’s league also if they can sort out things. I have nothing against them.”

The former Churchill Brothers striker hoped that the ongoing issue between the clubs, AIFF and IMG-Reliance ends amicably.

“I think whatever IMG-Reliance wants to do, will do in a grand and big way. I do believe that all the three (I-League clubs, the AIFF and IMG-Reliance) are working for the benefit of football. They just have to come to a conclusion soon.”


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