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Wizard Chhetri makes history

sports Updated: Mar 26, 2010 22:29 IST

Sunil Chhetri became the first Indian footballer in Major League Soccer (MLS) when he signed a contract with Kansas City Wizards at the club's headquarters on Friday. The contract, according to Chhetri's agent, is for four years.

“Sunil Chhetri has agreed in principle to terms with Major League Soccer, pending his P-1 Visa and ITC approval. Chhetri will be unavailable to play in the Kansas City Wizards opener versus DC United at home on Saturday,” a release said.

“I am really happy to be in KC Wizards. I am proud to be the first Indian playing in the MLS. I think it will take some time for me to settle down. I’m quite sure that I’ll be able to do well here,” Chhetri said, during a teleconference from the US.

“I have not faced problems during my trials for the club at Arizona. The facilities are really good and are not something I used to get everyday back home,” he added.

Wizards' manager, Peter Vermes, said Chhetri was a technically sound player and was all praise for the Indian for gelling with his new teammates in a short period.

“It is difficult for players to come in and fit into the team. But it was wonderful that Chhetri gelled with the team during trials and a practice match. He will not play our first MLS match (against DC United on Saturday) but he is a bright prospect to make it to the playing team in future,” said Vermes, also taking part in the teleconference.

“A few days ago, I spoke to the US Football Federation chief whose name is Sunil Gulati. I said we have two Sunil’s in the US. Hopefully, Chhetri’s move could lead to other Indians coming to MLS and other countries,” he said.

Chhetri is the first Asian for the Wizards and the eighth Asian in the MLS. He will be the third Indian-born professional athlete currently in American professional team sports. The others are Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor-league pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel.