Captain of the Indian football team, Sunil Chhetri turns 37 today. Born on August 3, 1984 in Telangana, Chhetri has almost become synonymous with Indian football and achieved unparalleled success with the side. The star footballer made his international debut in 2007 against Pakistan and has gone through a roller coaster ride in his career. There was a time when his coach told him that he was not fit to be in the team. However, despite several impediments, he has made a niche for himself in India football.
Here are the five interesting facts about Sunil Chhetri.
- Sunil Chhetri has scored 74 goals in 118 matches in his international career. His goal per match average is 0.63 and this is better than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. While Ronaldo’s goal per match average is 0.61, Messi scores at 0.5 goals per match for Argentina. As far as the numbers of international goals are concerned, Ronaldo leads the way with 109 goals. UAE’s Ali Mabkhaut and Lionel Messi are second with 76 goals and Sunil Chhetri comes in at number three.
- Sunil Chhetri has inherited this game from his family – his mother Sushila Chhetri and his twin sisters were all international footballers and they represented the Nepal National Football Team.
- Sunil Chhetri was associated with Portugal’s club Sporting Lisbon in 2012, but during an interview, he revealed that the then head coach questioned his ability and wanted to send him to the B team from the A team. He stayed with the side for nine months, but could only feature in five matches. He was also part of the Kansas City Wizards of America in 2010, although he returned to India within a year.
- Sunil Chhetri became the first player to score 50 goals for India and he has been conferred with the All India Football Federation’s Player of the Year Award 6 times. He first received this honour in 2007. After this, he repeated this feat in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018-2019.
- Sunil Chhetri’s father was in the Army and hence, he stayed in different parts of India. He did his schooling from Gangtok and then, continued it further in Army Public School, Delhi. Apart from this, he also studied in Kolkata and left his studies to pursue his career in football.