Mahendra Singh Dhoni inspires Indian footballer Anirudh Thapa.
‘I have always enjoyed watching Dhoni play because of the style he has. The aggression — I really like that. It has influenced me in my game too, as football is a game where you need to be tough and aggressive,’ 22-year-old Thapa tells AIFF.
‘Watching him hit those powerful shots and big sixes — it has had an effect on me and helped me to into those 50-50 challenges fiercely and win them,’ adds Anirudh.
‘When I heard the news of his retirement, I was obviously very sad because I am a big fan of him,” says the midfielder.
Like Dhoni, Thapa has a Chennai connection.
Dhoni leads the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL.
Thapa has made 55 appearances for Hero ISL side Chennaiyin FC and was part of its title-winning squad in 2017.
Dhoni is a co-owner of Chennaiyin FC, and Thapa says the cricket legend’s humility has wowed players at the ISL club.
‘Dhoni is a very humble man, besides being a great person who is always motivating us and sharing his experiences,’ reveals Thapa.
‘At team lunches, he would come up and talk to us. He has seen so much in life and all of us are aware of his background. So what he told us made a big difference. It was amazing to gain that experience and it was truly a fanboy moment for me,’ the footballer adds.
‘I remember after one lunch, everyone was leaving and some of the young players came up to him to speak to him and ask for his autograph. Other people were calling him, but he insisted he will talk to us.’
‘He gave us his time and shared his experiences with us. That was the time I realised how humble he is.’
‘It is one of the biggest positives I have seen and learnt from him.’
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