Cricket in our country is closer to being a religion than a sport, and this obsession often renders us unable to appreciate the other numerous sports that our players are excelling in. One of India’s top footballers and the captain of the Indian National team, Sunil Chhetri, shattered records to become the second highest active international goalscorer in the world. He brilliantly scored 2 goals during India’s Intercontinental Cup match against Tajikistan, and surpassed Lionel Messi to gain his title. Chhetri is now only behind Portugese football legend Cristiano Ronaldo, who hold the record with 88 goals in his name.
Born on 3 August 1984 in Secunderabad, Chhetri’s affiliations with football began quite young. His father played football for the Indian Army’s team while his mother and her twin sisters played for the Nepal women’s national team. Chhetri began his professional career in the game at Mohun Bagan in Kolkata in 2002. In 2005, he moved to JCT, a football club based in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, where he scored 21 goals in 48 games. Chhetri successfully signed for the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer in 2010, and became the third player from the subcontinent to go abroad. He soon returned to the motherland, where he played for Chirag United and Mohun Bagan. He was soon signed by Sporting Clube de Portugal of the Primeira Liga where he played for the club’s reserve side. Chhetri led India to win the 2007 Nehru Cup, 2009 Nehru Cup, the 2012 Nehru Cup as well as the 2011 SAFF Championship. He was also one of India’s best players during the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup, in which India won the tournament, and ultimately qualified for their first AFC Asian Cup in 27 years. Chhetri’s outstanding achievement in sports earned him the Arjuna Award, and he was also recently awarded the Padma Shri. He is currently a part of the Bengaluru FC, as a striker.
Sunil Chhetri’s contributions to football have revolutionized the game in India. He has placed the Indian team on the scoreboard amongst some of the best in the world, and his unequalled skills continue to bring glory to the nation. Chhetri’s accomplishments have made it possible for younger children to envision a future in the sport, and have de-marginalised the concept of considering football as an unstable career path.
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