Bhaichung Bhutia has led the way for Indian footballers for over a decade but with Sunil Chhetri's venture into Europe, is the torch being passed on? Goal.com discusses..Sunil Chhetri has taken up the mantle of being Indian football's poster boy from Bhaichung Bhutia for a while now and his recent move to Sporting CP's 'B' side only cements his position as such. Both players have enjoyed successful careers and have done their country proud in the process. However, despite Chhetri's achievements, he may still have a bit further to go in order to reach the benchmark set by Bhutia.
Chhetri is notorious for terrorizing defenders with his nippy movement and energy. He is confident with both feet and isn't afraid to shoot on sight. Bhutia on the other hand is known for his sharp-shooting that earned him the name, 'The Sikkimese Sniper' and his tremendous leadership qualities. Chhetri boasts an oustanding goalscoring record for the national side and has experienced cup triumphs as well but has thus far failed to win any silverware at club level.
It's an area that Bhutia has conquered by winning the league in the 1996-97 and 2003-04 seasons and also tasting victory at the ASEAN Club Championships in 2003. He captained India for over a decade and served as the face of Indian football during that time. His surge to stardom increased the nation's interest in football at a time when it was even less popular than it is now. Bhutia has also won the Federation Cup and several other tournaments something which Chhetri hasn't yet managed to do.
|Sunil Chhetri vs Bhaichung Bhutia
|2007, 2011||PLAYER OF THE YEAR||1996, 2008|
Chhetri has a lot to do if he has to be spoken of in the same breath as Bhutia as the latter has guided his club sides to glory on several occasions and performed in crucial matches. Chhetri would have to rid himself of the 'club flop' tag and in order to do that he has to up his performances. The attitude of 'I am too good for the I-League' is not justifiable given that he has managed to reach double figures in terms of the goals scored in a season on just the one occasion.
For a player, it is essential to understand that while it is certainly commendable to perform well for the national team, it is also imperative that they give their 100% while representing the clubs who pay their monthly salaries.
This is the final opportunity for Chhetri to show that he is deserving enough to ply his trade at a European club since his performances in the I-League don't seem reflect that.
Chhetri may be enjoying all the glamour and attention of being an Indian footballer to sign for a major European club but Bhaichung Bhutia can still be upheld as India's most accomplished footballer. Chhetri's move to Portugal could either catapult him to fame and recognition or tarnish his reputation by labelling him a flop once again after the daft Sporting Kansas City sojourn a couple of seasons back and accusing his move of being a marketing ploy.