Chettri to play for Sporting Lisbon reserves (Roundup)July 5th, 2012 - 9:34 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 5 (IANS) Portuguese football giants Sporting Lisbon Thursday signed India’s captain Sunil Chettri for a year. The forward will be playing for the reserve (B) team, and becomes the first Indian to ply his trade in Portugal.
Reserve teams in Portugal are not allowed to play in the same division as their main team, thus being ineligible for promotion. Reserve teams are not permitted to enter in the cup competitions like the Taca de Portugal and the Taca da Liga.
“Really happy, looking forward to it. I feel like a 14-year-old. It’s too early to say where I will be playing, first we have to make sure I’m fit and fine. Go there and see what the coach want,” an emotional Chettri told reporters here.
Chettri himself might have been confused where he would play but his agent Yogesh Joshee set the record straight saying that he would be playing for the ‘B’ team, which is the reserve side.
“Makes more sense for him to join the B team. Our aim was to make sure he gets regular football. The contract is minimum for a year. We will divulge all the details in the next 24 hours. There were other European clubs interested in him. But now he’s a Sporting player,” said Joshee.
Chettri, who trained at the Sporting Lisbon ground with the national team before the start of the Asia Cup, said that he needed to prove himself and see what he could achieve.
“At the end of the day I have to go there and prove myself. I just want to see how much I can achieve there. I want to take each day as it comes. There’s only one thing on my mind that I have to go and train there. We trained there for one and half months with the national side.”
Chettri will be flying to the Iberian country in another two weeks time to straighten out all the details.
“From 163rd (India’s FIFA ranking) to playing in the 5th ranked nation in the world, it’s one opportunity I will never forget in my life,” said Chettri.
Chettri, naturally, is aware that a tough test awaits him in Europe.
“I will have to do a lot of hard work. I will leave no stone unturned, so that I don’t regret later in my life. When I am 40, I don’t want to feel that I could have done better,” he added.
The striker said that he only got to know about the offer a week back.
“It’s huge for me and the country. There were talks but I didn’t have the full details. I was told only 5-6 days back. It’s going to be difficult. I will be playing in one of the best clubs in the world. I will not let anyone down.”
Vice-president of the Portuguese club Aureliano Oliveira Neves said that signing Chettri was there first initiative towards rasing the level of the game in India.
“We have also come here for the development of Indian football at the grass-roots in India and will work for that with the AIFF. He (Chettri) is going to be playing this season. Signing Chettri is the first step of our commitment towards Indian football,” said Nevez.
Sporting Lisbon is one of the three big clubs in Portugal with Benfica and FC Porto being the other two. The club has won 18 Primera Liga titles, 19 Portuguese Cup. Sporting though have won one European trophy (UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 1963-1964). They came closest to lifting one of the most coveted trophies in Europe when they finished runners-up in UEFA Cup (2004-2005).
The club has produced greats like Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani among others.
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