17 years ago, June 12, saw the birth of a superstar, as 20- year -old Sunil Chhetri made his International debut against Pakistan in Quetta and a new era was born. And he has gone on to become probably the greatest footballer in Indian football history- giving spectacle, winning titles, and breaking one record after another. To celebrate the 15 years of Sunil Chhetri, some need-to-know facts about the poster boy of Indian football. Here is the list of 10 unknown facts of Sunil Chhetri our “Captain Fantastic”:
1.Football : A family affair
His mother Sushila Chhetri and his sisters represented Nepal in the National Soccer team.
2.Special debut against traditional rivals Pakistan
Chhetri made his debut for the Blue Tigers in 2005 and played exactly five games. Not bad for the beginning of a great career, was it?
3.Always one to rise to the occasion !
Sunil Chhetri scored his first hat-trick against Tajikistan in 2008, in the prestigious AFC Challenge Cup.
4.Chalk up not only goals
He’s scored the most goals against Chinese Taipei, totaling 6 goals in his 5 experiences. Also, he has been awarded the AIFF Footballer of the Year six times in his career now. Not an easy feat, right?
5.This man has travelled !
Chhetri had played for four top Indian clubs before his first International stint, for Kansas City Wizards in the United States started. The clubs were – Mohun Bagan, JCT, East Bengal, and Dempo.
6.Smooth from the start !
In the prestigious and now Nehru Cup (rebranded as the Intercontinental Cup), he scored 9 times in just 14 of his appearances.
7.Bin the Ten; 11 the den
Chhetri has played in more than several attacking roles throughout his career. But the No.10 position roles haven’t been his favorite ever. That extra bit of space on the wing or operating near the box excites him! His jersey number. A hashtag whenever he plays. #SC 11.
8.One for the big stage !
He’s played in 12 FIFA World Cup qualifiers matches so far, where he netted 7 times. It was July 25, 2010, that Chhetri made an appearance against Manchester United. Yes, the MANCHESTER UNITED. Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. For a boy, it was a dream come true. For him, it was a regular course!
Sunil Chhetri’s finest year for the national team, in terms of the number of games he played, came in the year 2011. India played the AFC Asian Cup, the man scored against quite a stronger opponent Bahrain. In total, he scored 13 times! A whopping 13 times! In his debut season at the Kanteerava, as Bengaluru FC romped to the I-League title, the man donned the Blue’s jersey 26 times. He had a stunning 15 goals to his name. With 47 goals in the Hero, ISL Chhetri is the leading Indian goal scorer in the tournament’s history till now.
10.Arriving in style
The first taste of National glory came in 2007 when Captain Fantastic was just 23. India won the Nehru Cup, beating Syria in the final. Chhetri had announced himself in style, scoring 4 times. He wrote history books last year when he earned “Asian Icon” by the Asian Football Confederation for his contribution to the game. Long-awaited!
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Have a good day ahead 🙂