This article will tell you about some of the biggest facts you didn’t know about Sunil Chhetri
Sunil Chhetri has been the face of Indian football for a long time, and his status as one of the game’s most illustrious players is well-established both in India and around the world.
Indeed, Chhetri’s incredible narrative has been recognized by the Federation Internationale de Football Association’s new documentary, ‘Captain Fantastic,’ which is available for streaming on FIFA+.
Sunil Chhetri has won numerous matches and medals during his distinguished career as a player and captain of the Indian football team. But in this post, we’ll look at some of the facts you might not know about India’s football star!
1. He is the only football player who has won the Khel Ratna Award
Sunil Chhetri received the highest athletic honor in India, the Khel Ratna Award, from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in 2021.
He was the first football player in history to obtain this prestigious accolade. He was honored alongside other well-known sports figures such as Neeraj Chopra and Mithali Raj.
2. Sunil Chhetri is India’s most-capped footballer
Chhetri has become India’s most-capped football player since his debut against Pakistan in 2005. He has made 131 appearances in his career spanning more than 17 years.
3. Chhetri is the world’s third-highest active goalscorer!
Sunil Chhetri is the world’s third-highest goalscorer among active players, after only international legends Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
He is ranked fifth on the all-time list, with 84 goals. He is also India’s all-time leading goalscorer, having scored the most goals in the Indian Super League.
4. He has been named AIFF Player of the Year seven times
Sunil Chhetri has set a record for the most AIFF Player of the Year accolades earned by an Indian footballer. He has received the prize seven times: in 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2019, and 2022. M. Vijayan won it three times, and Baichung Bhutia and Jo Paul Ancheri each won it twice.
5. Football runs in his veins!
Sunil Chhetri grew up with a passion for football because his mother was a football player in Nepal and his father also played in the Army! Sunil Chhetri’s mother was a member of Nepal’s national squad.
6. Sunil Chhetri has a lovely love story
Few people are aware of the lovely love tale of the Indian striker, who met his lady love when he was 18 and she was 15. Chhetri’s wife, Sonam Bhattacharya, was the daughter of his coach, Subrata Bhattacharya.
Chhetri fell in love with his coach’s daughter and dated her for nearly a decade before marrying her.
7. Sunil Chhetri came close to joining an English football club
Sunil Chhetri signed a three-year contract with English League Championship club Queens Park Rangers in 2009, according to a Hindustan Times story.
The dream, however, was dashed when Chhetri was denied a work permit by the British government since India was not ranked in the top 70 of the FIFA World Rankings. But Chhetri stayed upbeat and continued to play for his country.
8. Sunil Chhetri was the first Indian to play in the Major League Soccer
Sunil Chhetri finally got his chance when he joined with the Major League Soccer club Kansas City Wizards. As a result, Chhetri became the league’s first Indian player.
The head coach of the Wizards, Peter Vermes said, “One thing we really like about Sunil is that he’s a crafty player. Technically he’s very sharp, and he’s a guy that has good attacking tendencies.”
9. He has many victories for India
Sunil Chhetri’s memorable effort has resulted in numerous victories for India. Chhetri’s performances helped the team win the Nehru Cup in 2007, 2009, and 2012, the SAFF Championship in 2011, 2015, and 2021, and the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008. He has been the captain of the Indian football team since 2021.
10. Sunil Chhetri is a cultural icon in Asia
Sunil Chhetri was named a “Asian Icon” by the Asian Football Federation, the continent’s governing body of football, on his 34th birthday in 2018. The AFC stated that being the third-highest scoring football player in the world in the age of Ronaldo and Messi was no small feat.