It is time for us to appreciate our captain and celebrate his efforts in the Indian Football Revolution.
May 26, 2020, 6:46 p.m.
Sunil Chhetri, who turns 36 today, and the captain of the Indian National Team, has become a household name in recent years. He followed the footsteps of his father who played for the Indian Army team. He is the second-highest international goal scorer with 72 goals, even better than Lionel Messi and other greats of the game. Chhetri, just like many other Indian Legends, began his football career at the famed football club of Mohun Bagan. He went on to move to JCT, a football club from Hoshiarpur, Punjab, and managed to score 21 goals in 48 games. In 2010, Chhetri became just the third sub-continent player to play abroad. MLS club Kansas City Wizards signed him. Chhetri has also played for Cristiano Ronaldo’s boyhood club Sporting Lisbon’s reserves side. In his international stints, Chhetri got much-needed exposure and faced a lot of challenges. Due to this, he achieved great heights for the National Team and earned the tag of “Captain Fantastic.” Sunil Chettri played a crucial role in India’s hattrick of winning the Nehru Cup in 2007,2009, and 2012. Chettri’s performance in 2008 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers helped India reach the AFC Asian Cup Finals for the first time in 27 years. Bengaluru FC signed Sunil Chhetri in the 2013-14 Season, and to date, he has scored a whopping 67 goals for the club. Chhetri was signed by Mumbai City in the 2015-2016 season for an astonishing 1.2 Cr, making him the most expensive Indian player in the ISL. Sunil Chhetri has won 2 I-League titles with Bengaluru FC and won the 2018-19 ISL Championship as well. The highest point of his club career has been when he led Bengaluru FC to AFC Cup Runner’s up in 2016. Sunil Chhetri scored his debut goal for India against Cambodia in the 2007 Nehru Cup. Chhetri became the National Team Captain in 2012 and has played a key role in the Indian Football Revolution since then. Chhetri has a reputation for scoring in important games such as Finals and crunch qualifiers. His performance in the 2012 Nehru Cup Finals was widely appreciated as he scored in the 2-2 draw and also finished a penalty in the penalty shootout. In 2017 Chhetri scored in the 4-1 win against Macau for India, which saw them through to 2019 AFC Asian Cup. Chhetri’s appeal to the public in 2018 led to a massive crowd in the 2018 Intercontinental Cup. This tournament was played in Mumbai and India won eventually. Maintaining his reputation of scoring important goals, Chhetri went on to score a brace in Intercontinental Cup Finals. Chhetri captained India to a massive 13 match unbeaten streak. He has played a pivotal role in the transformation of Indian Football which saw them rise up to the top 100 in FIFA Rankings after 21 Years. Chhetri has been awarded the Arjuna Award and the Padma Shri. He is a legend of Indian Football and has laid the stepping stone for others to follow and help the National Team achieve its dream of playing the FIFA World Cup. Chhetri is and will always be an inspiration for the young kids playing football in South East Asia.