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India's soccer ace heads for Portugal club

sports Updated: Jul 06, 2012 00:27 IST
HT Correspondent

Over a decade after Bhaichung Bhutia's stint with English club FC Bury, India football captain Sunil Chhetri is bound for a major European club.

Chhetri, 27, will join the reserve side of Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon - a move seen as the coming together of the European nation's aim to tap the market in India and the Indian national team's effort to raise its standards.

This is Chhetri's second global foray after an uneventful stint with American club Kansas City Wizards.

But the striker will hope his time in Portugal - which reached the semi-finals of Euro 2012 - will be more meaningful and help inspire the legion of Indian youth dreaming of careers in football in a largely cricket-obsessed country.

"From 163rd (India's FIFA ranking) to playing in the 5th ranked nation, it's an opportunity I will never forget," Chhetri said Thursday at his official unveiling, holding up his new jersey.