Star India footballer Sunil Chhetri is just two years short of completing two decades of an international career. The India captain who made his international debut back in the year 2005 said that he is "fossilized" and the country may not find his exact replacement. However, he insisted that the team has "worthy" successors.
Chhetri has broken many records including becoming the most capped Indian player with 133 matches and scoring the most international goals with 85 for India - the third among active footballers in the world.
"I am fossilized. I have played for a long time, that is why you may not be able to find the exact replacement (for me) but there are many players (in the team) who will do well, if not better than me," Chhetri said on Saturday.
"You might not see a direct successor of me right now. I am not in the age bracket as the other senior players (in the national team)," he added.
He took the names of five players - Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Sandesh Jhingan, Amrinder Singh, Rahul, and Rowlin Borges as potential leaders after him.
"(They are) different types of leaders, all of them doing well, are potentially captains of their clubs.
"You may not find probably a similarity between the kind of person or player I am to them, but they are worthy leaders. All the five names can take charge."
Chhetri also suggested head coach Igor Stimac to identify 11 or 14 players as soon as possible. This could give them more game time together ahead of the Asian Cup.
"In my opinion, slowly and steadily we have to move towards having the same 11 or 14 players. As soon as he (Stimac) realizes (identifies) this is the 11 or 14, it is better for the team. This is my opinion and the coach might be having a different view.
"The more games these 11 or 14 players play from now on till the Asian Cup, the better for the understanding of the team. As soon as the national team realizes and fixes its first 11 or 14, small things like understanding, left shoulder or right shoulder, who is going to mark in set pieces, who and what strengths, and applying these on the pitch is important."