Igor Stimac: Fire in the belly secret to Sunil Chhetri’s long career

The India head coach describes Chhetri as a “workaholic” and a “team man.”

Sunil Chhetri “drives the team and he is the character who defines the team,” says Igor Stimac.   -  AP

Igor Stimac has said he was impressed by what he saw of Sunil Chhetri after having taken over as head coach of the Indian team.

Chhetri was a workaholic and had a fire in the belly, he noticed. “Chhetri craved to push maximum to achieve the result after the heartbreak in AFC Asian Cup,” he told www.the-aiff.com.

“Dedicated, workaholic and team man - those are some of the attributes which define Sunil Chhetri. When I first saw him last year, they were back to the National Team camp after a long gap following the AFC Asian Cup. A few boys were new but the fire under his belly probably was more than anyone else. That's the secret of his long career. Congratulations!” he said.

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Chhetri pushed the bar in training, according to Stimac. “I see him as someone who always pushes the bar in the training and never compromises with the regime. He drives the team and he is the character who defines the team. Numerous characters have glorified Indian football history and he's definitely one of them who have made his country proud,” he said.

'Undaunted'

Former India coach Sukhwinder Singh also lauded Chhetri for his distinguished career for India.

“I haven’t seen anyone as dedicated as Sunil,” Sukhwinder said. “I saw him maturing in JCT and there were flashes of what he could do in the future. I still remember his hunger. In 19 years of my coaching career, I haven't seen anyone as dedicated as Sunil. He remained undaunted and was never willing to shy away from working hard. Shouldering the responsibility for 15 years demands discipline and he keeps it above everything else.”

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