Sunil Chhetri - The Trailblazer of Indian Football

India is a land where Cricket is a game that is next to religion for the majority of the folks, with legends rising through the game like Kapil Dev to now Virat Kohli who is talked about and known relentlessly everywhere by the fans. Sometimes the audience tends to miss some gems that are making a name for India in other sports. One such personality from India is Sunil Chhetri, the man who is the all-time top scorer for the Indian National Football team, the man who equals with the one who is considered the G.O.A.T of international football and who stands ahead of Leo Messi with a total of 80 international goals.

Chhetri is known as the “Talisman” of Indian Football. In many ways, he can be considered a legend in the Indian football scene today with all the achievements he made with his country. Let’s dig a little deep into this legend’s career for he’s worth the talk and the pride of India in every sense possible.

Embracing colours of the early life:

Born in Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh, to Nepalese origin parents, football came naturally to him as Chhetri’s father K.B Chhetri was a team player in battalion EME Corps of Indian Army and his mother Sushila Chhetri herself played for the Nepal Women’s National team. We can also say that hhe was destined to become a footballer when he grows up. He said in an interview that growing up; his mother was his biggest competitor and was also a strict mentor to him. Although born in Secunderabad, Chhetri calls Delhi his hometown because during his childhood being an army kid he experienced many transfers and relocations, landing him and his family in New Delhi. One thing that remained constant in his life despite other changes occurring was football, and that led him to become the “Captain Fantastic” of the Indian National Football team without any doubt. His family consisted of his mother, father, and his sister, and he earnestly embraced the mantra of his family of being disciplined and hardworking but nonetheless being free-spirited regarding whatever you want to do in life and regards that to be a beautiful lesson for his life.

Rise of a Future Star

The footballing career of Sunil Chhetri started when played for a local club in Delhi when he had plans to join St. Stephen’s College in Delhi University after his schooling but after his completing his school, Chhetri received a call from Mohun Bagan AC, an esteemed West Bengal sports club, in 2002, where he was offered a three-year contract to play for the team in the Indian Super League which included renowned players like José Barreto, Renedy Singh, Bhaichung Bhutia and from then onwards the 5ft 7’ man never looked back, it was a big offer for him. It sounds easy but Chhetri learned the hard way to get that offer and now he built himself into the player he is today. After the three year contract with Mohun Bagan, Chhetri was taken in by JCT FC (Jagatjit Cotton & Textile Football Club), an Indian club of Punjab, and during the season of 2006-07, he shined with scoring a total of 11 goals among which his best matches were against his former club Mohun Bagan and another club Dempo in which he scored braces gaining victory for JCT with 2-0 and 3-2 goals respectively. 

In July 2013, Chhetri signed up with another I-league side Bengaluru FC, where he scored a total of 14 crucial goals and had 7 assists for his club to lead Bengaluru FC to its first-ever I-league title in the debut season itself. Chhetri became an important asset altogether. In 2015, Chhetri was picked by the Mumbai City club for Rs. 1.2 crores, to play in the Indian Super League making him the most expensive Indian player ever at the auction. In the fourth game against the NorthEast United Chhetri made his way into the records by becoming the first Indian player to score a hat trick. In 2015-16 of the I-league, Chhetri was loaned out to Bengaluru FC and he again paved the way for his team to win the title by scoring 5 goals. At last in June 2016 Bengaluru FC declared that Chhetri had again signed a 1-year contract at the club therefore they got their star man back with them.

Liberator of the national team:

 Of course, the surreal feeling of getting selected to play for the senior National team on an international level comes with a lot of pressure but Chhetri overcame it flawlessly. In 2004 Sunil played his first senior National game and scored against the Pakistan team, leading India to victory. Chhetri has been leading the National team since the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup that took place in Malaysia and has been contributing thoroughly each and every time as the Captain Fantastic.

The player is internationally the most capped footballer of India with more than 125 caps. He became the first Indian footballer to receive the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award which is a national award of India on 13 November 2021. Chhetri has also been named AIFF (All India Football Federation) Player of the Year five times in 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2017. He has been absolutely in the best shape and form so far for India with more glory to follow in the upcoming future. 

Sunil Chhetri“ Now that I realise and I know that I’ve got 70+ goals for my country, it’s a feeling that I am really proud of and till the time I can, I’ll give every ounce of me to score goals for my country and do well for my country.”

Substandard Football Quality In India:

Chhetri has always been vocal when it comes to the scenario of football in the Indian sphere. Time and again he has asked his Indian fans for more support and love for the game and made people appreciate the game and him. In 2018, Chhetri scored a hat-trick in a 5–0 win over Chinese Taipei Club in their first match of the 2018 Intercontinental Cup but he was disappointed to see almost an empty stadium with no one to cheer for the game, which led him to take over Twitter to speak about this issue. In his video message on Twitter, 

Chhetri said: “Abuse us, criticise us but please come to watch the Indian national team play.”, “To all of you, who have lost hope or don’t have any hope in Indian football, we request you to come and watch us in the stadium.” 

Subsequently, this tweet got retweeted even by personalities like Former Indian Cricket captain Virat Kohli and became a sensation after which the stadium was packed with a prolific crowd for the rest of the matches. Once when asked by a journalist about how Football can become a nationwide sensation like Cricket, Chhetri very impeccably replied that it is not a battle between cricket and football, instead it’s about our country and every sport in our country should excel be it cricket, football or for that matter any other game.

Football is one of the most popular games globally but unfortunately, India has always lacked behind in showcasing their football skills in the international fields. However, with Sunil Chhetri’s entry into the sphere of Indian football, we can see a new light that has inspired many budding talents all over the nation to work on the game hard with passion. Just like Jersey 7 & 10 has been inspiration and motivation for millions of football lovers in the same way Sunil Chhetri Jersey 11 is a trailblazer for a new generation of football lovers in the country and the hope that this passion for football in India will grow bigger and better. The fate of Indian football can change if they can assemble a few more players like Sunil Chhetri.

Most Asked Questions About Sunil Chhetri:

What is the age of Sunil Chhetri?

Sunil Chhetri is 37 years old just like Cristiano Ronaldo. The Indian National team captain was born on 3 August 1984. 


What is the salary of Sunil Chhetri?

The player earns around 7 lakh Indian Rupees or around $9K per month. He is the most expensive player in the history of Indian Football. 

Is Sunil Chhetri in FIFA?

The National Team Captain Sunil Chhetri has the highest ratings for any Indian player in FIFA. The player has a rating of 68. 

Is Sunil Chettri Indian or Nepali?

The player has his family roots coming from Nepal while his mother and grandmother are directly from Nepal. Sunil was born in Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh and is Indian by nationality.

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