We have seen two of the greatest players battle each other in our generation. Every football fan will now have smile on their face as they very well know that we are talking about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. There were so many head to head encounters in the form of La Liga, Champions’ league and too many record-breaking moments along the way. It seems like they both own the patent rights of the league. They both are legendary in their own unique way.
Since Kaka won the ballon d’or in 2007, there have been only two winners of the honor, they are Ronaldo and Messi. These two are imperious, they will be surely considered as two of the greatest of all time after their retirement, no, they are considered like that even now.
Now, there has a strange record breaking but a fact going around the football circle, he is not considered as best in the planet, but he is slowly making his names in the headlines. He is none other than the Indian captain Sunil Chhetri. Ronaldo tops the list with 85 goals scored; Messi has scored 65 goals in the international level for Argentina. Now, why does the name of Sunil Chhetri lock into this list? Yes, believe it or not, Indian captain Sunil Chhetri has scored 65 international goals for India and is joint highest scorer with Messi being his partner. Yes, he might have scored against the less strengthened defense compared to what Messi faced, but a record is always a record set straight. Sunil Chhetri has now slowly into the headlines from India which is cricket crazy nation.
Little did the India captain know, he would go on to surpass a century of caps and score 21 more international goals since 2015 to rival the world’s greatest players of the generation and in the process lead his nation to a fourth AFC Asian Cup in their history with four goals in the qualifiers. He also helped India lift the 2015 SAFF Suzuki Cup and was named the tournament’s MVP.
Despite a difficult start to life in Kolkata, Chhetri eventually established himself, earning a first international call-up. It was a huge occasion for the then 20-year-old, especially as India was facing arch-rivals Pakistan.
The story of 64 goals and counting started with a bang as Chhetri marked his debut with a goal he cherishes to this day, “That goal always comes to my mind when asked about my favourite goal,” he reminisces. “It was against Pakistan, in Pakistan, and I was 19 or 20, and on my debut. It will always be special to me.”
Return to Asia
It was the first of many occasions Chhetri’s strikes brought joy to fans of the Blue Tigers, “There are a few great moments that also spring to mind but the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup when I scored a hat-trick against Tajikistan in the final [to progress to the 2011 AFC Asian Cup] was very sweet.”
Chhetri was four months old when India last played in an AFC Asian Cup, so being the man who delivered a return to the top continental tournament after 27 years was a moment that helped cement Chhetri’s legacy as an Indian superstar.
After more solid goal scoring form in the I-League, another big move came his way. Sporting Club de Portugal offered him a 2-year contract and he immediately went to play with their reserve team, Sporting B. Once again, this was a great chance for Chhetri now to make a name for himself in Europe and really prove his worth at club level.
Opportunities were limited for him in Portugal, with only 3 appearances to his name he was soon loaned back to India joining Churchill Brothers FC to gain more playing time. Once this relatively successful loan spell ended, Sporting CP released Chhetri and he joined Bengaluru FC.
It was here that Chhetri really found his home. In all competitions for Bengaluru, he has scored 73 goals in 145 game s- a mightily impressive record scoring a goal every other game on average. Not knocked back by his struggles overseas, Chhetri is a testament to hard work, mental strength and the ability to overcome disappointment. A lesser player would have been dejected after the spells in the US and Portugal but Chhetri has bounced back and continued to perform.
His club career also rose to new heights, in the past few years since joining JSW Bengaluru; Chhetri scored 14 AFC Cup goals, leading the club to become the first Indian side to reach the competition’s final in 2016. At 34, Chhetri is showing no signs of slowing down, recently signing a new contract that will keep him at Bengaluru until 2021 as he looks to take them past the 2018 AFC Cup Inter-Zone Semi-Final where they face Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr.
Sunil Chhetri, Indian superstar has set his legacy for the future starts from India; youngster can now boldly follow the sports in the vision of achieving big. His father was once the player of the Indian army team and his mother was the player of Nepal women’s team. This automatically drove Chhetri to pursue football. He first played for Mohun began FC before getting into JCT FC and demo FC. He also played for east Bengal club as well.
January’s AFC Asian Cup in the UAE is the next stop for Chhetri who is looking forward to rubbing shoulders with Asia’s finest once more. “It’s an opportunity to test ourselves against the very best in Asia,” he told the-AFC.com ahead of the tournament’s draw in May, “It brings immense happiness to be back in the tournament. I’m glad especially for all the youngsters who will get an opportunity to experience what it is like to be in such a tournament.”
It’s his interest, dedication and passion that made him a superstar he is today, it is now time for all of us to cheer for him and push him to take India to greater heights of football world. He can make it possible, but our support will give him boost to make impossible as possible. Come on; let us cheer for our Indian captain with all sounds of our throat. Let’s pray for his amazing international career which is about to be achieved more in the future.