The Indian football team captain, Sunil Chetri, arrived in Portugal on Thursday, exactly seven days after being signed by Sporting Clube de Portugal, popularly known as Sporting Lisbon, a club that has given the world the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo.
“Sunil Chetri moves to Sporting Clube de Portugal for the next season, the Indian football captain arrives in Portugal early in the morning,” a release said. Chetri was accompanied by the club’s advisor Nuno Gomez.
Only the second footballer to play in Europe after former skipper Bhaichung Bhutia, Chetri has been drafted in to play in the club’s reserve (‘B’) team, which will play in the second division of the league.
Based on his performance with the reserve team, Sporting Lisbon will take a call on whether he should be fast-tracked into the main squad.
“From 163rd (India’s FIFA ranking) to playing in the fifth ranked nation in the world, its one opportunity I will never forget in my life,” Chetri said after the deal was made official last Thursday.
Chetri is well aware of the tough test that awaits him in the Iberian country. “I will have to do a lot of hard work. I will leave no stone unturned so that I don’t regret later in my life. When I am 40, I don’t want to feel that I could have done better,” he said. He had previously undergone trials for Queens Park Rangers and Coventry and played for Kansas City Sporting.