MUMBAI: Captain Sunil Chettri starred in India's 5-0 win over Chinese Taipei by registering his third career-hat-trick but the feat didn't invoke wild celebrations from the striker, who said that he is someone who doesn't like to "celebrate outrageously" on the field.
The match against Chinese Taipei at the Mumbai Football Arena last night also marked 99th cap for Chhetri, who also scored his 59th international goal.
"I am very happy when I score. I do not take it for granted. I am very fortunate to score so many goals for my club and country. I am very happy from inside. It's just that I don't celebrate outrageously like Robin Singh," Chhetri said at the post-match press conference.
Hosts India made a positive start to its campaign at the Intercontinental Cup with a rousing victory over Chinese Taipei.
Admitting that he takes his goals very seriously, Chhetri said he would burst into wild celebrations if he could score against Bahrain in the AFC Asian Cup.
"A goal at the Asian Games, at the Asian Cup, a goal that might help us qualify against Bahrain are goals that might rouse a more wild celebration. I will jump and hug and shout and come and hug somebody," Chhetri said.
"Right now though, Udanta (Singh) comes to my mind. I am very fond of him and he scored his first goal today so I went up and said 'congratulations kid' and he said '58 to go'. So I take my goals very seriously and the day I score against Bahrain and we qualify, trust me, I will jump," added the 33-year-old.
Jeje Lalpekhlua set up Chhetri's first two goals last night and the skipper said he shares excellent rapport with the forward from Mizoram.
"We have played many games together. He (Jeje) is supremely talented. He is very experienced, knowledgeable and works so hard on his game. He is somebody who I respect a lot and is one of our best players. So it is not difficult to combine with him and I have done my best to help him and he does the same," Chhetri said when quizzed about his partnership with Jeje.
Asked how he feels about the possibility of many youngsters across India and the world looking up to him as a role model, Chhetri was modest in his reply.
"I don't look at my career as someone to follow because I (am) busy worrying about my own stuff right now.
I don't think I am at that stature (where) people, especially from other countries would follow me, if they do, then I am obliged and privileged," he said.
"We are talking like this because we won 5-0. If we had lost then you would have abused me. Maybe in 20 years when I have retired we can think about this and how many people I have inspired or motivated," Chhetri signed off.
Come Monday at the Andheri Sports Complex, Chhetri would play his 100th international game against Kenya.