India football captain Sunil Chhetri was all set to sign a deal with Goan club Churchill Brothers in 2013 but his “gut feeling” prompted him to join Bengaluru FC, where he won eight trophies in the last eight years.
The 36-year-old Chhetri said the lure of playing in the AFC Cup and advice from his family and friends to join Churchill was tempting but ultimately he didn’t join the Goan club.
Churchill Brothers won the 2012-13 I-League title and played in the AFC Cup, the continent’s second-tier club competition.
“Everything told me to sign for Churchill Brothers (in 2013). I-League champions, renowned name, going to play in AFC Cup. On the other hand, (Bengaluru FC) new club and don’t know who are going to be signed, may or may not work, so it was a gamble I took,” Chhetri said.
“My family said sign for Churchill and be sorted. AFC Cup was a big motivation. But I went with my gut feeling. Sometimes in life your gut feeling gets it right, sometimes not. But here I got it right,” said Chhetri in a video uploaded by Bengaluru FC on its twitter page.
Chhetri has extended his contract with Bengaluru FC for another two years and will be with the Indian Super League side till 2023.
Since 2013, Bengaluru FC have won eight trophies, including two I-League titles (2013-14 and 2015-16) and one Indian Super League triumph (2018-19). BFC also finished runners-up in the 2015-16 AFC Cup.
“I have not spent a lot of time in one club, even at clubs where I had great rapport and great time. Three years in Mohun Bagan was amazing and three years in JCT. But there is no guarantee you will stay in a club for a long time,” said Chhetri who is currently the third-highest international goal scorer among active players.
“Maybe there were chances of me going from here and people are interested, so obviously there was obvious noise. If everything goes well I will stay here.”
Chhetri, who has scored 74 goals from 118 matches for India, said he now feels BFC and the city as “just like home”.
“This club always looks for progression and improvement and that is very important at my age, paramount. That motivates me.”
Chhetri has made 203 appearances for the club, scoring 101 goals in eight seasons. He has led the club since its inception in 2013 and has topped the goal-scoring charts in each of his eight seasons with the Blues.