Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri made a plea on his social media accounts, urging fans to come support the Blue Tigers at the stadiums at every possible opportunity.

Chhetri, one of the greatest footballers that India has produced, today made an impassioned plea to all the football fans in the county who passionately follow European clubs – “abuse us, criticise us but please come to watch the Indian national team play.”

The country’s all-time highest goal-score was speaking a day after his hat-trick helped India thrash (a depleted) Chinese Taipei side 5-0 in front of a sparse crowd at Mumbai Football Arena. The official attendance figure was 2569, mainly thanks to the organised group called ‘Blue Pilgrims’ who were chanting and singing all evening.

India, who have improved their ranking to 97 in current Fifa chart, are in a good run of form of late.

The skipper who scored his third international hat-trick in-front a near empty Mumbai Football Arena (MFA) stands, had a message for all fans across the country: turn up.

“To all of you who are fans of big European clubs and support European clubs with so much passion and sometimes you guys think that the level is not the same, so why do you waste your time? Agreed, the level is not the same, not even close but with our desire and determination, we will try our best to make your time worth,” Chhetri said while thanking the fans who did show up.

“To all of you, who have lost hope or don’t have any hope in Indian football, we request you to come and watch us in the stadium,” the skipper added. “I mean it’s not fun to criticise and abuse on internet. Come to the stadium, do it on our face, scream at us, shout at us, abuse us, who knows one day we might change you guys, you might start cheering for us. You guys have no idea how important you guys are and how important your support is.”

India will face Kenya on June 4, which will incidentally be Chhetri’s 100th international match.

“I request you all to please come about the game, go back home, have discussions, make banners. Please get involved, this is an important time and juncture in Indian football and football in India needs you guys.”

You can watch the video below:

Cricket captain Virat Kohli backed up Chhetri’s views too, stressing on the need to support all sport equally if India are to be recognised as a sporting nation.