Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri was in the spotlight quite recently when he made an emotional appeal to the fans across the nation to get behind the team in the ongoing intercontinental Cup tournament. In an attempt to popularise the sport in India, he urged the fans to come to the stadium and the fans turned up in numbers to support India.
Let’s take a glimpse at the life story of Sunil Chhetri:
Sunil Chhetri was born on August 3, 1984 in Secunderabad to K.B. Chhetri and Sushila Chhetri. His father extended his fruitful contributions for Indian Army’s team while his mother and her twin sisters played for the Nepal women’s national team. Sunil Chhetri started his footballing career at a young age where he actively took part in several tournaments.
He proudly represented India for the first time in Asian School Championship in the year 2001. Kolkata based Mohun Bagan club spotted Sunil Chhetri’s talent and roped the signature of him in the next year. He hogged the limelight when he made his debut for the senior Indian national team in 2004 Asian Games.
He announced his arrival in style when he scored his maiden goal against Pakistan. Due to his string of excellent spells for the clun and country, he was selected as AIFF Player of the Year. He enjoys netting the goals playing as a forward and was awarded the Best Player of the Year and Best Forward by the National Football League.
Sunil Chhetri became an icon when he steered India win the Nehru Cup for the first time since 1997. He has gone from strength to strength and went on to lead India to lift the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup where he was Awarded Most Valuable Player.
Sunil Chhetri gained global attention for his stellar performances and he signed for English Club Queens Park Rangers but unfortunately, he was not given a work permit. In 2009, he was the Awarded Best Player and Best Striker by Football Players’ Association of India. In the next year, he created history as he was the first Indian footballer to ply the trade for a Major League Soccer Club in USA. He was named the captain of the Indian football team in 2010.
Year by year, Chhetri unlocked some greatest achievements. He helped India win the SAFF Championship and was at his prime being the Top scorer. Due to his performances he was awarded the player of the tournament. Once again, he was named AIFF Player of the Year for contributions to club and country in 2011. In the next year he signed for Sporting Club de Portugal. His impeccable contributions lifted team’s morale and hence India leapfrogged 24 positions in FIFA rankings from 167 to 143.
After his release by Sporting Club, he enjoyed plying his trade for Bengaluru FC City for the next 2 seasons where he steered Bengaluru FC to their first ever I-League title in its debut season Two seasons later, he was roped by Mumbai City during the 2015 Indian Super League for Rs. 1.2 crores, making him the most expensive Indian player at the mega auctions.
However, he was loaned out to his former club Bengaluru FC City, where he played a big part in the league once again helping his team for the second time in three years. In 2016-17 season, he signed a one-year contract with Bengaluru FC. He scored 14 goals for the club in 2017-18 season and became the league’s second top scorer.
Sunil Chhetri’s international career boasts huge volumes. He made the entire nation proud when he climbed ladders to take the third spot among international goal-scorers, as he chipped in with 61 goals to his credit in 100 appearances, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo – 81 (149 matches) and Lionel Messi – 64 (124 matches)