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‘Sunil Chhetri Was Not Made In A Day’: Ex-Skipper Subrata Paul On Future Of Indian Football

File photo of Sunil Chhetri© AFP

It has been a turbulent period for Indian football with Sunil Chhetri hanging his boots from international football and the dismissal of national team coach Igor Stimac resulting in a massive controversy. Chhetri retired from international football following the match against Kuwait and in the very next game, India crashed out of the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers following a controversial loss against Qatar. Since the news broke about Chhetri’s decision, both fans and experts have expressed concerns about the possible options who can replace the star striker. In the past year, multiple footballers like Manvir Singh and Sahal Abdul Samad have been used as the striker but no one has truly staked their claim for the position.

However, former Indian football team captain Subrata Paul believes that the management needs to give multiple chances to the young talents and that is the only way to find a proper replacement. Subrata, who recently conducted a goalkeeping workshop for ALPHA Sports Academy in Mumbai, said that Chhetri “was not made in a day” and similarly, it will take time and patience to find the next top striker for India.

“Sunil Chhetri has set a good example but nothing is permanent. Where I am today, someone else was there before me. Where Chhetri was, someone else was there before him and someone will step up to take his place. You cannot expect him to play 100 years for you. However, you have to appreciate him for his service and set him as the benchmark. However, the world never stops moving and we need to work on the future generation of strikers,” he told NDTV.

“Chhetri was not made in a day. Before him, there was Bhaichung (Bhutia). When Bhaichung left, people were worried but Chhetri stepped up. He became a legend after playing for more than 15 years. He did not become Chhetri in just one year. We need to give other youngsters consistent chances to perform and put our trust in them. We will not be having this conversation five years later because someone will step up to take Chhetri’s position in the national side,” he added.

Meanwhile, Igor Stimac has criticised the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and its president Kalyan Chaubey following his dismissal as the national team coach. Subrata did not comment on Stimac’s allegations and said that he wants to concentrate on what he can do for the sport in India.

“Everybody is entitled to their opinions. We cannot control someone else’s thought process. However, what we can control is what can we do for Indian football. He has said what he feels but I personally believe in work. You will reap what you sow,” he concluded.

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Bernard Greenhall
Bernard Greenhall

Bernard is a sports and physical education expert with years of experience. He's passionate about promoting health and wellness through physical activity, and he's worked with athletes and non-athletes alike to help them achieve their fitness goals. Bernard holds a degree in Physical Education and is dedicated to staying up-to-date with the latest trends and research in his field.

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