Updated May 16th, 2024 at 23:17 IST

Sunil Chhetri's coach reveals how much money former India football captain was offered on debut

Sunil Chhetri's former coach, Mohammad Sajid, revealed how much money former India captain received on his debut.

Sunil Chhetri | Image: Instagram/@chetri_sunil11
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Sunil Chhetri, at the tender age of 16, was filled with boundless joy when he received a token sum of Rs 1000 for his inaugural contract with a Delhi-based club, reminisced his childhood coach, Mohammad Sajid, on Thursday. The illustrious Indian captain, who has recently announced his retirement, embarked on his football journey by enrolling at Mamta Modern Senior Secondary School in Vikaspuri, where Sajid first spotted his talent.

Also Read | Real legend of the game: Sports world pays tribute to Sunil Chhetri

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Sunil Chhetri's coach reveals the contract he was offered on debut

It was under Sajid's guidance that Chhetri was offered his debut club contract valued at Rs 6500. The young player left an indelible mark by clinching the emerging player of the year award in his debut season.

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"Nageshwar Rao, a player from our City Football Club, facilitated my meeting with Sunil," Sajid told PTI in an exclusive interaction here at the Ambedkar Stadium. "I still remember offering him a contract worth Rs 6500 per year and asked him to play in the Delhi League and the Durand Cup," said Sajid, who is now the City Club's CEO.

"As soon as I handed him the token (amount) of Rs 1000, he was elated — as if he had got a cheque worth lakhs of rupees. He was very happy and shared with me that with that money he wanted to give a treat to his friends," Sajid recollected.

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"His (Chhetri's) potential was unwavering and I felt it from the first day that he must play outside Delhi as a professional, which would be fruitful for him." Chhetri went on to become the leading scorer for India with 94 goals in 150 matches.

"To see him play that level makes us proud. He has played for our club (and) now he is among the top three players for scoring most goals in international football. He has worked really hard. Playing at that level for so long is also not an easy task," Sajid said.

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Also Read | Bhutia showers praise on Sunil Chhetri as legend announces retirement

Sajid also remembers Chhetri's journey from Delhi to Mohun Bagan

"I am not in touch with Sunil but I still remember the first time I took him and an other player, Manoj Joshi, to Kolkata in a train to sign up for Mohun Bagan in 1999." "During that journey, I told him (Chhetri) that he really had a high potential and only if he remained focussed, nothing would stop him from playing for India. He proved my words right." Sajid said India does not have any player to replace Chhetri.

"No, I don’t see any player right now to replace Sunil. Maybe in the future, yes, but right now, there is no one." Sajid also wishes for Chhetri to step into the world of football administration after his retirement. "We just want to see him join the AIFF and do something for football in this country," he said.

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(With PTI inputs)

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Published May 16th, 2024 at 23:17 IST