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 had 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. Mary Kom is one of them. Hers is 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 Championship titles. “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,” added Chhetri.
The forward also revealed that when the going gets tough, he thinks about Cristiano Ronlado and Lionel Messi and then everything ‘falls into place.’ “There are two gentlemen named Ronaldo and 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 that ‘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 stated.
Chhetri is currently the second highest international goal scorer among active players with 70 strikes to his name, behind Ronaldo (88). He went past Messi (68), who is third in the list, during the 2019 Intercontinental Cup opener against Tajikistan.