Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri on Saturday made an emotional appeal to fans requesting them to watch football and support the team in the ongoing Intercontinental Cup 2018.
In a video posted on Twitter, Chhetri first thanked the fans who came to Mumbai for watching the game on Friday against Chinese Taipei, which India won by 5-0. He smashed a hat-trick to guide India to a thumping win in the opening match of the Intercontinental Cup at the Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai.
Sitting pretty at 59 goals in international football, Chhetri also became the first-ever Indian footballer to have scored three hat-tricks in international football surpassing Appalaraju and I.M. Vijayan, both of whom had two hat-tricks to their credit.
Appealing to those who are not die-hard football fans, Chhetri said in the video, "Today I am not making a video for you guys. I am gonna speak and appeal to all of you who did not come. To everyone who is not a football fan, please come and watch us for two reasons. No. 1, it's the best game in the world and No. 2, we play for our country. We will make sure that once you come to watch us, you will not return the same person back home. Please come and watch us."
The 33-year-old football star urged all to criticise the Indian football team in order to help the players improve in every game.
Chhetri further requested the football fans to vociferously support the team saying, "Who knows, one day we might change you guys! You might start cheering for us."
Acknowledging that there was a huge support for European football clubs compared to the home team, Chhetri added, "To all of you who are fans of big European clubs and support European clubs with so much passion, thinking that the level is not the same. Agreed, the level is not the same, it is not even close. But with our desire and determination, we will make sure to make your time worth. To all of you who have lost hope, I request you to come and watch us in the stadiums."
Further, the Indian football skipper made a special request to those who did not watch the fixture.
This is nothing but a small plea from me to you. Take out a little time and give me a listen. pic.twitter.com/fcOA3qPH8i— Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) June 2, 2018
"To all of you fans who could not come or did not come due to delay, work and school, please come and watch us in the stadiums. You guys have no idea how important you are and your support is. So, today I am requesting all of you to come and support us on 4th, 7th and hopefully 10th June when we are playing in Mumbai. Encourage us, watch us, abuse us, criticise us and talk about the game. Go back home and have discussions, or make banners, but please get involved."
Asking all to back his team during the critical juncture in Indian football, Chhetri once again requested citizens of the country to come and support the team in huge numbers wherever they played and fill up the stadiums. He signed off by saying, "Jai Hind!"
Earlier, the 33-year-old felt that he has not yet attained the stature where international footballers will "look up to him".
On a related note, India will next take on Kenya next in their Intercontinental Cup match on June 4.