SPORT

Chhetri endorses Dheeraj’s talent

India captain Sunil Chhetri foresees a great future for India U-17 goalkeeper Dheeraj Siingh, provided he acquires a work ethic and keeps his feet on the ground.

The young custodian sought a career abroad following a stunning U-17 World Cup display under the bar for host India. The Manipuri got a positive response from Scottish club Motherwell FC after trials, but work permit issues denied him the chance to play in Scotland.

Said Chhetri, “I feel sad, because I know what you go through when on the brink of a potential contract and it does not happen.

“It is not because of you as a player, but due to other things (India’s FIFA rankings). It is not nice. I know he is going to be sad, but [he has to] keep working hard.”

Chhetri had faced a similar situation over work permit difficulties when Premier League club Queen Park Rangers failed to land the Indian striker due to a technicality.

At that point, the British government only granted work permits to players from non-EU countries which were within 70 in FIFA rankings. India is ranked 97 at present.

“He is definitely one of the players who did well for us in the U-17 World Cup and is somebody who has a great future. Working hard and keeping his head on shoulders is going to be paramount for Dheeraj. I just hope he does that,” said Chhetri. He also hoped the goalkeeper will grab the next opportunity to play for a foreign club.

“I spoke to Gurpreet Singh (India’s first choice custodian) and he said there is potential (in Dheeraj).

“I just hope he finds a way soon. The whole point for him is to get better and on that journey grab every opportunity he gets with both hands.”

Dheeraj’s India U-17 teammates played at Indian Arrows in the I-League. The goalkeeper left the side midway through the competition to seek a career away from India.

He is definitely one of the players who did well for us in the U-17 World Cup and is somebody who has a great future

Sunil Chhetri


  • The young custodian sought a career abroad

  • Work permit issues denied Dheeraj the chance to play in Scotland