I was Told I Wasn't Good Enough to Play in India: 'Bhutanese Ronaldo' Chencho Gyelthsen
“Players from Bhutan won’t be able to play in the I-League,” these were the words told to the captain of the Bhutan national team Chencho Gyelthsen as he tried to force a move to the I-league from his native country. Giants of Indian football like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal were informed about the player's prowess, but even they were not interested.
Chencho Gyelthsen (Twitter)
New Delhi: After more than two decades, Indian football, which has been dominated by the traditional powerhouses from Kolkata, Goa and in more recent years Bangalore, has a champion from the northern part of the country. Minerva Punjab clinched the I-League title in a thrilling final day when they beat Churchill Brothers to nullify the late challenge of East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Neroca in the race for the top prize.
One of the crucial cogs in the wheel for India's newest champions, Minerva Punjab was their Bhutanese 'Cristiano Ronaldo' Chencho Gyelthsen who was told he was not good enough.
“Players from Bhutan won’t be able to play in the I-League,” the captain of the Bhutan national team Chencho Gyelthsen recalled in a conversation with News18Sports while he was trying to force a move to the I-league from his native country. Giants of Indian football like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal were informed about the player's prowess, but even they were not interested.
However, in 2017, I-League newcomers Minerva FC punted on the 21-year-old and he has proved to be a game changer in the real sense of the word. Minerva finished 9th last season but this year they have taken everyone by surprise, competing for the title as we approach the final few games of the season. Just when it seemed they would run out of steam, they have somehow managed to show great character and one of the main reasons behind it has been the presence of Chencho, who has already scored 6 goals and has 5 assists to his name.
This includes a brace against Mohun Bagan and also a goal against East Bengal, two clubs who refused to sign the Bhutanese sniper.
“I have been trying to play in the I-League and I approached some clubs but I was told by the agents that I wasn’t good enough to play in India, the clubs were saying that my level wasn’t good enough for the league,” says Chencho as he recalls his journey to India, coming here with a point to prove and doing it in sensational style.
Chencho also grabbed the headlines in 2015, when he scored a brace for Bhutan – who were the lowest ranked team in the world at that time – as they beat Sri Lanka over two legs in the World Cup qualifiers.
Football is not the most popular sport in Bhutan but Chencho is a widely followed star and his presence in the I-League has meant that the league is being followed with great enthusiasm.
“There are a lot of good players in Bhutan but the problem is lack of opportunities, I hope that now more Indian clubs will look to sign Bhutanese players. That will help the football in the country to grow,” he feels.
Before football, Chencho was more interested in Taekwondo, but after being picked by the national academy, he never looked back. He is also known as the ‘Bhutanese Ronaldo’ for their similar game play and the way he terrorizes the opposing defenders.
“When I was in the academy, everyone used to watch Manchester United play. That’s when I saw Ronaldo. He was not a god-gifted player but his hard-work has helped him reach this level. He is an inspiration for me,” adds the Bhutanese star.
For now, Chencho has one goal and that is to help Minerva lift the title. The team started with an aim to finish in the top 3 but has grown in confidence with every passing week.
But with dark clouds hovering over the future of the I-League and the merger with ISL looking all but imminent, Chencho knows what he wants,
“It would be a dream to play in the ISL. It is a popular league in India and in other countries. If the right offer comes, then for sure I would like to play in the ISL,” he says, signing off.
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