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Thursday, July 5, 2012
Sporting sign India skipper

ESPN staff

Sporting Lisbon have signed the captain of the Indian national team, Sunil Chhetri, and he will spend the next two seasons playing for their B team.

Sporting already have a number of agreements with teams in Saudi Arabia, Angola, China and the United States. The new deal with the Indian Football Federation is intended to boost the development of the game in the country as well as acting as a commercial opportunity for Sporting. All of Sporting B's games will be broadcast live in India.

"From 163rd [India's FIFA World Ranking] to playing in the fifth-ranked nation in the world, it's one opportunity I will never forget in my life," Chhetri told the Press Trust of India. "I will have to do a lot of hard work. I will leave no stone unturned, so that I don't regret later in my life.

"When I am 40, I don't want to feel that I could have done better. I am excited. I want to see where do I stand... want to grab it with both hands. I can't let go this opportunity. Now, I feel like a 14-year-old."

A statement released by the Portuguese club read: "With our experience in scouting and the development of high level players we are ready through a set of local partnerships to find the best solutions to accelerate the development of football in India. He will symbolise the dreams of all the young people who have ambition to play in Europe."

India FA president Praful Patel added: "It is truly a very remarkable occasion for Indian football. It's an important milestone. He will be playing shoulder to shoulder with some of the top players of the world. This is a beginning of a new era in Indian football."

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