Indian men’s football team head coach Igor Stimac stated that the leadership skills of Sunil Chhetri on the pitch are special. The Croat manager also expressed how the talismanic striker is a role model to the entire team, being the most passionate member in the dressing room of the whole lot.
India recently claimed their eighth SAFF Cup title, with a 3-0 win over Nepal in the final of the tournament. Sunil Chhetri opened the scoring for the Blue Tigers, with Suresh Wangjam doubling the lead moments later. Sahal Abdul Samad struck the last nail in the coffin with the third goal in the dying minutes of the game.
With the goal in the final, Sunil Chhetri has now equaled Lionel Messi for the joint second-highest active goal scorer in International football. The Indian also ended up as the top-scorer in the SAFF Cup and also won the best player award. However, for head coach Igor Stimac, despite his goal-scoring prowess, Sunil Chhetri’s leadership skills on the pitch stands out from the rest.
“It’s not just the goals he scores, but it’s his leadership on the pitch that is special. He is a role model, and he is the most passionate one in the dressing room. At this age, that’s quite unbelievable. His fitness is unbelievable and we wait for someone to step forward together with a better fitness condition, and with a better scoring ability to replace him,” said Igor Stimac, as reported by AIFF.com.
At the age of 37, Sunil Chhetri may be well past his prime and we might only see him around for a few years at max. However, India is yet to find a suitable replacement for the skipper. Despite his age, Igor Stimac still looks at Chhetri as the best player in the squad.
“I look at him as the best player. I never look at the age of players. If I was looking at the age of players, I would never put an 18-year old to play for the National Team. Age is not important for me, it’s just what they do on the pitch is important for me,” he added.