Sunil Chhetri gestures during the AFC Asian Cup group A match between United Arab Emirates and India.(AP)
Sunil Chhetri gestures during the AFC Asian Cup group A match between United Arab Emirates and India.(AP)

Want to see Sunil Chhetri as mentor, not TV commentator: Luis Garcia

Sunil Chhetri had had a stint on the TV earlier as an expert during the FIFA World Cup 2018.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2019 09:58 PM IST

Sunil Chhetri’s performance at the Asian Cup once again underlined his stature as arguably the best player in the national team. Not only did he score two goals in three matches but was also the leader of the pack on field.

At 34, Chhetri probably may have two to three years ahead of him as a player. And when his career, that has seen him become India’s all-time scorer with 67 goals, ends he should be involved with the national team rather than be a TV commentator, feels ex-Barcelona and Liverpool player Luis Garcia.

“He (Chhetri) is a special player. You have to look up to someone, you have to have an idol and here in India you don’t have many. At this stage in India, the passion for football is growing. Now he is playing, but when he retires he should be next to the national team, involved with the players. He must be a mentor in the coming years,” Garcia said on the sidelines of announcing the Barca Academy’s Asia Pacific Cup in Gurugram from January 25.

“Probably many people would like to use him as a commentator. I am a friend of him and I am not telling this in a wrong way but I would like to see him helping in grassroots development. With his mentality, I am sure he would like to do that as well.”

Chhetri had had a stint on the TV earlier as an expert during the FIFA World Cup 2018.

India could not progress to the round of 16 at the Asian Cup after losses to UAE and Bahrain. They won one match against Thailand. Garcia, who has played in the Indian Superr League, says the Indian players need to ply their trade outside India, especially in Asian countries.

“When Spain’s rise happened during Euro 2008 or 2010 World Cup, a lot many of our players were already playing in the Premier league or Bundesliga. The national team gains from the experience of such players. Indian players should also be sent to the neighbouring countries or other Asian countries for gaining knowledge about different styles of play,” Garcia said.

“If that is done results may show in the coming years. Change will not happen overnight as you are competing against teams which have been working under a proper system for so many years. The players should be given a chance to improve.”

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