Darjeeling Football Hero, Sunil Chettri scores the ‘Big Times’ – “It is difficult to stay away from home”, says Sunil

Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chettri glorify India (File Photo)


Biography: Sunil Chetri (born August 3, 1984 in Darjeeling) is an Indian footballer. He is Gorkha by ethnicity and plays in the Forward position and is known for his high work rate, ball control and shooting. Chetri started his football career with the Delhi based City Club. Since then, he has represented Mohun Bagan JCT FC. For the current season, he has signed with East Bengal Club. He was selected the AIFF Player of the Year 2007 for his excellent performances for his club and country.

PTI, NEW DELHI: Indian striker Sunil Chhetri will sign a contract with United States Major League Soccer side Kansas City Wizards on Friday, the MLS club said on Thursday.

“Indian forward Sunil Chhetri has agreed in principal to a deal with Major League soccer, pending medical and P-1 Visa approval,” KC Wizards Manager Peter Vermes said.

“One thing we really like about Sunil is that he’s a crafty player. Technically he’s very sharp, and he’s a guy that has good attacking tendencies,” he added.

After signing his contract, Chhetri will hold a press conference early morning on Friday (Thursday evening USA time).

A teleconference of Indian media is being organised at 9 am by the Bangalore office of Cerner Corporation, a medical software company headquartered at North Kansas City whose boss Neal Patterson is the owner of KC Wizards.
Chhetri will become the third Indian player to ply trade in a professional league abroad after Mohamed Salim and current national captain Bhaichung Bhutia.

Salim played for Scottish side Celtic in pre-independence days of India while Bhaichung was with English Championship side Bury FC in the second division from 1999-2002.

The 25-year-old from Delhi will become the first Indian and eighth Asian citizen to play in MLS. He will also be the first Asian to play for the Kansas City Wizards.

Chhetri, who arrived in Kansas City on Tuesday night, will join the team for training later in the week. KC Wizards play their first match of MLS season on Saturday against DC United.

Chhetri has been a regular with the Indian national team since 2004, scoring 16 goals in 35 appearances. His most famous moment with the national team came in 2008, when he scored a hat-trick in the final of the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup against Tajikistan.

Because of the victory in that tournament, India qualified for the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar, the first time after 1984.

Chhetri began his professional career in 2002 with Mohun Bagan, scoring eight goals in 18 appearances over three years with the team. He later played for I-League sides JCT, East Bengal and Dempo, making 75 appearances and scoring 35 goals over the next five years, earning Indian Player of the Year honour from the All India Football Federation in 2007.

Chhetri drew interest from British clubs Leeds United and Glasgow Celtic and appeared for trials last year with English Championships (second division) sides Coventry City and Queen’s Park Rangers.

QPR offered Chhetri a contract but could not complete his move after the English Home Office denied him a work permit due to India’s low FIFA rankings.


Sunil Chettri Cheers with delight (File Photo)


New Delhi, March 26: Indian forward Sunil Chettri has signed up with Major League Soccer club Kansas City Wizards in the USA. Team officials said Chhetri had agreed in principle last night to the club’s terms.

He awaits his P-1 visa and his international transfer certificate. Chettri, however, will not be available to play in the Kansas City Wizards’ first match, versus DC United, at home tomorrow. “The one thing we really like about Sunil is he’s a crafty player. Technically he’s very sharp, and he’s a guy that has good attacking tendencies,” the Wizards manager, Mr Peter Vermes, said in a statement. Chettri said he was excited that he would be playing for Kansas City.

“I am very happy and optimistic. I’m looking forward to getting to know my team-mates and the city of Kansas, and I am going to come to training and produce my best every day,” said Chettri, adding: “I have not faced too many problems during trial in Arizona.

The facilities are really good and they are not something I used to get everyday back home. I will listen to my coach, coaching staff, team-mates and others and try to understand them.” The 25-year-old Delhi player thanked his I-League club Dempo and the All- India Football Federation for their support in getting into KC Wizards. “I thank Dempo for their support and for the fact that they released me for my trials here. They were trying for the I-League title and I know they must have felt my absence.

I also thank the AIFF for its support in my endeavour to play abroad and in MLS,” he said.

“It is difficult for players to come in and fit into the team. But it was wonderful that Chhetri had easily gelled with the team during trial and in the practice match he played,” said Vermes. Chettri becomes the eighth Asian and the first Indian to play in MLS. He will also be the first Asian to play for the KC Wizards. Currently, MLS features representatives from more than 55 countries playing in its 16 clubs.

Chhetri will be the third Indian-born professional athlete currently in American team sports. The others are Pittsburgh Pirates minor league pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel.

National Football League linebacker Brandon Chillar of the Green Bay Packers and former NFL wide receiver Sanjay Beach are also of Indian descent. Chettri earlier appeared for trials at Coventry City but failed to impress their officials. Indian-owned Queen’s Park Rangers offered him a contract but Chettri failed to get a work permit owing to India’s low Fifa rankings.

Mohun Bagan v Shillong Lajong

Mohun Bagan face Lajong FC at home, while Dempo hope to keep their winning momentum going when they clash with JCT FC tomorrow in an I-League match at Margao. In Mumbai, Air-India face Mumbai FC.

And ‘The Great American’ dream is realized…

Sunil Chettri Scores


Sunil Chhetri has become the third Indian player to play in foreign shores after Mohamed Salim (Celtic) and Bhaichung Bhutia (Bury FC) and would only be the eighth Asian to ply his trade in the MLS.

After Goal.com revealed about the Delhi boy having left the Indian capital on Tuesday evening to fulfil his American dream, Sunil Chhetri has almost completed his transfer to Kansas City Wizards as an official announcement of the same would be done on Thursday evening (US time) following a medical and a P-1 visa approval. A three-to-four year deal is likely to be agreed upon.

A video conferencing has been arranged for the Indian media in Bangalore as one of the owners of Kansas City Wizards – Neal Patterson, has his company’s Indian arm based in the southern city.

The Indian international shot to prominence following his hat-trick in the AFC Challenge Cup finals against Tajikistan which ensured that the Men in Blue get an opportunity to play in the 2011 Asian Cup. He has scored 16 goals for the Indian national team in 35 appearances.

The 25 year old secured a release from Dempo SC, the current league leaders in the I-League, earlier this month while the club was left to rue as to why they didn’t have a transfer fee clause injected in his contract.

Chhetri had an unsuccessful trial with Coventry last January and was also linked with QPR during the last Nehru Cup in August 2009.

“One thing we really like about Sunil is that he’s a crafty player,” Wizards Manager Peter Vermes said.

“Technically he’s very sharp, and he’s a guy that has good attacking tendencies.” 

It is indeed a proud moment for Indians and Goal.com wishes Sunil all the very best in his American sojourn.

A mature and humble Sunil Chettri in USA (File Photo)


New Delhi, March 27: It’s a new begining for Sunil Chhetri. After joining the MLS side Kansas City Wizards, the 25-year-old Indian striker is elated to be in the US but he also tells TOI he will miss playing in the Indian league. Excerpts from an email interview:

Did the fact that you did not get a UK permit last year have anything to do with the decision to play in the US?

I think I was in the race for the national team and I got an offer from Kansas City to come in for trials. I really didn’t have many choices. Coming from a country which is ranked 132nd to this country was a big thing for me. I took the opportunity and things moved from there.

How excited are you about your future in US football?

I don’t really know what to say right now. But yes, it will be a great experience, a learning process. I’m looking forward to it.

Do you think that your coming to the MLS will have an impact on your Indian teammates?

It should. I know that a lot of other players want to make the switch and do some of the things that I have done. I just want to wish them good luck and tell them that it’s not that difficult. You just have to believe in yourself. Once it happens to one or two players, it will open the door for more players.

It’s a crucial year for Indian team in terms of its Asian Cup preparation. Will your US experience help the national team?

I think it is very important for Indians to play outside. Sadly, in India we don’t get great exposure at home. For me, the main plan was to play outside. Now, I’m going to give it my best shot, learn as much as I can and come back home to help the team.

You have put India on the world map. Does that bring extra responsibility?

Yes, it does. But I want to take it easy and not get pressurized. I want to give my best and play good football. I want to be relaxed.

Who has played a crucial role in your career so far?

I don’t want to name any one person. It would be unfair. But one name that I want to take is that of Indian team’s chief coach Bob Houghton. He has completely changed the scenario for Indian football. He has given us a lot of hope and confidence that we can do well.

Will you miss playing in India?

I will but then I am happy playing here with KCW. The infrastructure, the facilities are great in the US. It is difficult to stay away from home but it is important for my career as well.


2 Responses to “Darjeeling Football Hero, Sunil Chettri scores the ‘Big Times’ – “It is difficult to stay away from home”, says Sunil”

  1. A.Chakrabarty Says:

    See the man behind Sunil Chettri’s move to Kansas City Wizard

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