Highly rated Indian football forward Vikram Pratap Singh believes it is an honour to be tagged as a future replacement for Sunil Chhetri.
The youngster, who featured in Goal's NxGn 2020 list, was responding to a fan comment during an Instagram live chat on Thursday.
When one of the viewers praised him and referred to him as someone who can replace Chhetri in the future, the player replied, "It is my honour. But Sunil Chhetri is a brand. It is mine and everyone's dream to be like him. His leadership quality is visible on the ground."
He credited the All India Football Federation's decision to send the age-category team on exposure tours for his improvement on the field in the last few years. He also thanked the Indian FA for their Indian Arrows project which allows young players to compete as a team against professional teams in I-League.
"The AIFF sent us on a lot of exposure tours and I was able to play and learn a lot. Initially, there was pressure and there were mistakes made. But by playing more games against different teams and by gaining that experience, it was very helpful for me (to learn how to deal with pressure).
"Indian Arrows is the best option for young players. We play against I-League players and gain confidence. It helped me gain the confidence to play at the senior level."
The youngster from Gurdaspur, who impressed at the U-16 level under head coach Bibiano Fernandes, reserved special praise for the Goan coach. The India U-16 team that Vikram was a part of had narrowly missed out on qualification to the U-17 World Cup when they were knocked out in the quarter-final of the AFC U-16 Championship in 2018.
"Bibiano is a different coach. He takes care of matters off the field as well. It is not just about things on the field for him. We were so close to qualifying so I want to say sorry for not qualifying. The current U-16 batch is at a higher level than us, I can say. In the coming years, I am sure that we will qualify for the World Cup soon," Vikram concluded.