Indian footnball team captain Sunil Chhetri said the coronavirus-enforced break has allowed him to recover from the usual rigours of professional football.
Chhetri, 36, has been going strong on all fronts, being a key player for his club and country. Although the break initially made him restless, he soon realised it was what he needed.
“I realised that this (the break) was a very welcome change because you never get time to train on specific body parts or movements,” Chhetri told Hindustan Times.
“I had a thorough check-up to see what niggles I was neglecting. I don’t remember playing completely pain free for the last so many years,” he added.
The Bengaluru FC skipper revealed he was struggling with a hamstring injury since the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. The break helped him recover and also provided him insights on parts of the body he needed to work on.
“Not saying that I am going to score plenty of goals again but I feel better physically. I have also realised the importance of rest, especially at this age,” he said.
Chhetri said Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo serves as an inspiration for him to continue to perform at the highest level despite crossing the age of 35.
“I see on social media about his diet, his training and how he is just mad about improving every day and it is something I have learnt from,” the Indian captain said about Ronaldo.
“Once you play the game for so many years, you have a lot of knowledge and if you can, mix that with the same kind of desire you had when you were 17 and with the information that is now available…The top players get so much of help,” he added.
Chhetri is looking forward to the upcoming season of the Indian Super League that is set to begin in November with matches to be played behind closed doors across three venues in Goa.
“There will be a lot of testing and it will be very strict. Via your medium, I’m telling all the boys who are going to be involved –- please be sensible,” Chhetri said.
“It’s not easy to be inside a bubble for five-six months; more so for the young ones. Fossils like me are ready to just sit in a room and relax but for the safety of the league, we all have to be very sensible,” he added.