Sunil Chhetri is the captain of the Indian men's football team. He is the captain at Indian Super League club Bengaluru FC. He is India's leading goalscorer of all time and the second highest goalscorer in the world among active footballers. But there is one person who he is in awe of and that is his wife Sonam.
Sonam and Chhetri have been married for two years now but dated 13 years before that and it all started when Chhetri was just 18 years old while Sonam was a mere 15-year-old.
Chhetri played at Mohun Bagan under Subrata Bhattacharya then and it was his daughter who ended up dating and marrying. It was a scary prospect early on but as Chhetri expressed "I just couldn't get her out of my mind. I really enjoyed having her around."
This is how Chhetri defines his 'secret' love story with Sonam in a post at 'Humans of Bombay':
Her father was my coach, and he used to always specially mention this guy called 'Chhetri' to her. I was 18, and she was only 15. She was really curious about me so she stole my number from her dad's phone and texted me saying, 'Hi! I'm Sonam and I'm a big fan, I want to meet you!'. I had absolutely no idea who she was.
She was really sweet and kind on text so I decided to give in and met her - when we met I realised that she was just a kid! I told her, 'You're a kid, go study' and walked off. But for some reason, we didn't stop casually texting each other.
That went on for two months, and then one day my coach's phone stopped working - so he gave it to me to fix. While I was fixing it, the coach's daughter called and her number looked familiar to me. That's when I realised that it was Sonam's number! I was so livid!
I immediately called her up told her that if the coach would find out that I was chatting with his daughter he would end my career! I vowed to cut all ties from her. She apologised for not telling the truth, but I wouldn't have any of it.
A couple of months passed by, and I just couldn't get her out of my mind. I really enjoyed having her around. So I texted her and we started talking again.
Soon, we started to meet. We had to be really careful and couldn't let anybody know. I used to travel a lot so we'd only meet twice or thrice a year. I remember I used to go to the cinema, buy two tickets - and leave one on her name at the counter. I'd enter first and she'd enter 10 minutes after me.
Years went by and our bond only grew stronger. As I excelled in my career, she was there to always cheer me up, calm my fears and be my backbone. It was almost as if we grew up together and fell in love in the process.
When we were both old enough, and wanted to get married. I knew it was time to talk to her dad. I was filled with jitters when I walked into her house.
When we sat down, her dad started talking about everything under the sun. Until I finally mustered the courage and told him, 'Sir, I love your daughter and I believe she loves me too'. He just said, 'Ya, ya it's okay' and went to the bathroom.
Finally when he came out, he gave his nod of approval! And in a few months, we got married.
Chhetri has always maintained that he is extremely thankful to Sonam for sticking by him at all times. And in his newest post, he describes her support even more dearly.
"When I was a nobody and had no money, she was there. When I had my first win and even my first loss, she was there. When I was made captain, she was there. I just can't imagine my past without her, and definitely not my future. 'Till date she calls herself my 'biggest fan', but I hope she knows that I'm always and so much more, in awe of her."