Dream to represent India in the World Cup: Bijay Chhetri on his Uruguayan adventure

Bijay Chhetri. Source: Instagram

Bijay Chhetri, the Chennaiyin FC defender, has become the talk of the town after his historic move to Colon FC, a Uruguayan second division club. Hailing from Manipur, Bijay started his professional career at Shillong Lajong FC. Then, he got selected for Indian Arrows and, at by the age of 22, has already played for three I-League Clubs – Chennai City, Real Kashmir, and Sreenidi Deccan being the others. Bijay’s dream was fulfilled when he was signed by Chennaiyin in the ISL. But Bijay has now taken a bold step that few Indians have taken. The Manipuri defender became the first Indian player to sign for a Latin American Club. In this exclusive conversation with RevSportz, Bijay has spoken at length about his historic move, the inspiration he derives from his brother, Ajay Chhetri, who plays for East Bengal, his ultimate dream, and the barriers he expects to overcome in Uruguay.

Rahul Giri: How do you feel to be in the select group of Indian players to join a foreign club?

Bijay Chhetri: I am very happy to get the opportunity to play abroad. But there is still much work to be done. I would like to perform well and make my country proud.

Rahul: You sustained an injury at the beginning of your career. How difficult was that to overcome?

Bijay: That was a very difficult time. I was in the Arrows squad when we were playing a friendly match, and suddenly I got muscle tears and was out for three months. I had to miss the Indian camps also, and from there, I went to Chennai City.

Rahul: You have played for Real Kashmir, Sreenidi and Chennaiyin. But what motivated you to suddenly sign for a foreign club?

Bijay: It was not only from my side. My brother also motivated me to take this decision. It’s a great opportunity, but also very difficult to adapt to a new country. You have to learn a new language. It will be challenging, but still, I want to do well. It was also my dream to play abroad.

Bijay Chhetri and his brother Ajay Chhetri

Rahul: Have you started learning Spanish before going to Uruguay?

Bijay: I have started learning a bit. I am learning every day on the Translator app. Spanish is difficult, though.

Rahul: What are your expectations from the upcoming challenge?

Bijay: Now I want to impress the head coach there. I have to perform well there. But language can be a barrier there, so the first thing I want to do is to learn the language, and then my motive will be to play good football to impress the coach.

Rahul: When you play for Colon FC, you will be representing the whole nation. Will that add to the pressure for you?

Bijay: Yes, there will be pressure. I have to give extra effort there.

Rahul: Was it your dream to play for foreign clubs since childhood?

Bijay: I never even thought that I would play professional football. In my childhood, I used to play football only for fun. Then I saw my brother playing professional football. When my brother used to come home during the off period, kids from the neighborhood used to come to see him as he got famous. That inspired me to take football seriously. My first dream was to play in the I-League, then ISL, but I never dreamed of playing abroad. I gave my first trial at Shillong Lajong and got selected. I learned a lot of things from Shillong Lajong, and I will never forget their contributions.


Rahul: How much did your brother inspire you?

Bijay: I think because of my brother, I started playing football. Hard work and dedication is a different part, but he was a big influence on my career. If he hadn’t played football, I wouldn’t have played. Also, I would like to thank all the other clubs that I have played for, for helping in my journey.

Rahul: Who is your idol?

Bijay: Raphael Varane is my idol, and I also look up to Sergio Ramos.

Rahul: Do you think that your move to Colon FC will inspire other Indian players?

Bijay: I think so. If I go there and play well, if I work hard, focus, and be disciplined, I will be successful, and I think that will inspire many players to follow in those footsteps.

Rahul: Is playing for the national team your ultimate dream?

Bijay: That was my only dream since I started playing football. Also, it’s my dream to represent the India team in the World Cup. But my first target will be to play well there, fight to get more game time, and also get promoted to top clubs.

Rahul: What are the messages from your close ones about this move?

Bijay: My mom and dad are very happy. My father follows football, but my mom doesn’t. But my mom is a bit worried about how I will manage to stay there.

Also Read: Bijay Chhetri makes history with Uruguay loan deal