Sunil Chhetri deserves all the accolades, says Bhutia

IANS| Updated: Nov 17, 2013, 22:38 PM IST

Siliguri: Bhaichung Bhutia spoke highly of his former striking partner Sunil Chhetri and said he deserves all the credit for equalling his record of 42 international goals for India.

Chettri scored in the 41st minute in India`s 1-1 draw against the Philippines here Saturday.

"He deserves every bit of it. I want to congratulate Sunil and wish him all the luck in the future matches. I want him to score as many as possible and I`m sure he will," Bhutia told www.the-aiff.com Sunday.

"Sunil`s willingness to learn and improve himself as a player separates him from the rest. He came across as a true professional. He stayed ever willing to do that extra bit and I could see him working on finer points even after practice. He always chalked out time for improvement. He was dedicated, honest and never shied away from responsibility," he added.

Chhetri, though, has a better strike rate than Bhutia, reaching the 42-mark in 79 appearances while the former Indian captain took 107 appearances.

Bhutia said he was proud of Chhetri and pointed out that the major share of his goals came when the two played together.

"To be honest, I’m very proud of him. I’m proud of the fact that I have been there for a major part of his achievements. A major number of his goals were scored when we played together. Obviously, he has scored quite a few post my retirement, and he will score many more, but we will always cherish the moments we spent together. In fact, everyone in the team will treasure those moments," said Bhutia.

Chhetri made his debut for the India national team in the 2004 SAF Games in Pakistan. He scored his first international goal against Pakistan June 12, 2005.

"Scoring goals isn’t easy and here you are talking about 42 international goals. He has carved a niche for himself. No one can take it away from him. He has achieved it himself but has achieved it for all," Bhutia said.