Mary Kom inspires me, I'm her biggest fan, says Chhetri

Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri (Reuters File Photo)

Talismanic Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri on Thursday said he draws inspiration from legendary boxer MC Mary Kom's unbelievable story and is the six-time World Champion's biggest fan.

The 34-year-old striker, who has been in peak form in the last couple of years, was recently named the All India Football Federation's Men's Footballer of the Year for a record-extending sixth time. He has earlier won the honour in 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2017.

"I gather motivation from around me, from a lot of personalities who have done well in their respective fields. MC Mary Kom is one of them. She has an unbelievable story," Chhetri was quoted as saying by the AIFF.

The celebrated boxer has been an inspiring force in Indian sports. In her 18-year long illustrious career, she has won six World Championships, an Olympic bronze medal, and five Asian Championships.

"She is a six-time World Champion and has been a World Champion after giving birth to twins, and even after being a mother of three. If she doesn't inspire India, who else will. I am her biggest fan," Chhetri added.

Chhetri also revealed that when the going gets tough, he thinks about Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and then everything 'falls into place'.

"There are two gentlemen named Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi. In the last 10-11 years, they have completely dominated the world of football. If they don't score in 2-3 matches, people start speaking about how 'they are out of form.' Whenever I am stressed or tired, I always think about these guys. And it falls into place for me," he said.

Chhetri is currently the second-highest international goal scorer among active male players with 70 strikes to his name, behind Ronaldo (149). He went past Messi (68) during the 2019 Intercontinental Cup opener against Tajikistan. 

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