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Sunil Chhetri: The Captain Fantastic

Sunil Chhetri, the current captain of the Indian Football team, is the man who has created a hype and craze about football in India. It is believed that he has carved a niche for himself in the world of football and is the second-highest active goal scorer in international football after Cristiano Ronaldo, with 72 goals in his account. He rightly states that his life is revolving around captaining and running and making goals for the Indian International team and Bengaluru F. C. In the year of 2018, AFC awarded him the title of Asian Icon on his 34th Birthday.

Early Years & Coaching

Sunil Chhetri was born on 3rd August 1984 at Secunderabad. His father was an army officer and hence, he had to change a lot of places depending on his father’s transfers. Chhetri represented his school in Asian School Championship in the year 2001. His father played football for the army team and his mother and twin sisters played the game for the Women’s National Team, Nepal. So, it is like he had already got the football game in his blood.

It is pretty unclear about who gave the coaching to Sunil Chhetri, but whosoever has coached him has done an incredible job. There are various speculations about it. But, it is also possible that he was coached by his own parents. It is believed that if he received professional training that Mr. Jasmer Singh might have been his coach as Jasmer Singh has trained many known football players from Delhi. 


Sunil Chhetri has a brilliant National as well as international career. Let us have a glimpse of his bright career.

National Career

Sunil Chhetri played for some time with Delhi FC in the year 2001 in the Under 18 team. Then in the year 2002, he started his career by joining Mohun Bagan, one of the oldest and very famous football clubs in India. But, his club career debut with Mohun Bagan did not go as expected, as he ended up scoring only 8 goals in 18 matches. 

In 2005, he signed for JCT Mills for the year 2005-2006 and scored three goals, twice against Salgaocar and once against Sporting Goa. In the same year, he scored two hat tricks for Delhi against Orissa and Railways in the group matches of 61st Santosh trophy. The following year 2006-2007 proved to be a very lucky year for Chhetri as he scored eleven goals (including two braces against Mohun Bagan and Dempo) for JCT  and the team finished second after Dempo FC in the last National football league season. 

In the first I-league 2007 tournament, Chhetri scored seven goals, which helped the JCT team finish third in the tournament and was awarded the AIFF Player of the year award in 2007 for his extraordinary performance in National and International football matches. 

In 2008-09 he signed for East Bengal FC. His debut match for East Bengal was on 26 September 2008 against Chirag United, where he scored the first goal in the 28th minute and his team won by 3-1. In the Federation Cup qualifying match, he scored a goal against JCT, which helped East Bengal FC to conquer a position in the semi-finals. But, in the semi-finals, he missed a decisive penalty against Mohun Bagan, the arch-rivals of East Bengal, which knocked East Bengal out of the tournament. 

After his contract with East Bengal was over, he signed a contract with Dempo FC on 22 May 2009, which had a clause that allowed him to leave for trials with other International football clubs. On 24th March 2010, he signed an official contract with Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer, marking him the third Indian to play outside South Asia and the first one to play for Major League Soccer (MLS).

He had to leave the MLS side as he had to compete for the Indian national team until the end of 2011 AFC Asian Cup, and on February 5 2011 it was announced the Chhetri had officially left the club.

Chirag United signed Sunil Chhetri for the 2010-2011 I-League championship. Chhetri scored his first goal against Dempo on 3rd April 2011. Dempo won this match by 4-2. On 29 April 2011, he scored a brace against ONGC to end the match in a draw. In 2012 he signed a two-year contract with Sporting Lisbon.

In 2013, Sunil Chhetri was loaned to Churchill Brothers in order to get more game time where he made his debut on 26th February against Kitchee in the AFC Cup. In their next match Chhetri scored his first goal against Semen Padang where the match ended in a 2-2 draw. The four goals in eight matches by him helped Churchill brothers win their Second I-League title in the year 2013.

Chhetri then signed a contract with Bengaluru FC for the year 2013-2014 I-League tournament. With the help of 14 goals and 7 assists, he led the Bengaluru FC team towards its first I-league title. The year 2014 began with Chhetri playing for Bengaluru FC in the Durand Cup. The team crashed out in the semi-finals. In 2014-2015 he played Federation Cup for Bengaluru FC, in which he scored 6 goals and two braces and led his team to victory. 

He was selected by Mumbai City FC for 1.2 crores in 2015, making him the most expensive Indian Football player in the auction and became the top goal scorer for the team of the year. In 2015-2016 he was loaned to Bengaluru FC for the I-league championship, which the team won as a result of arduous efforts made by Chhetri. Bengaluru FC announced that they have signed a one year contract with Chhetri in the year 2016. In 2017-2018 he scored fourteen goals and became the top scorer for the league and won the Hero of the League title.

International Career

In 2004 he had a grand international debut as he scored his first goal against Pakistan in 2004 U-20 SAFF games, which made the Indian team victorious by 1-0.

Another eminent International win for Sunil Chhetri was that of the 2007 Nehru Cup. He scored 4 goals in the tournament and made sure that the Indian team won the title after 10 long years. In the 2008 SAFF championship, he scored 2 goals with the help of which, the Indian team reached the finals of the championship. But, Chhetri’s career shot to fame with the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup, in which he scored 4 goals and a hattrick in the finals against Tajikistan and led the Indian team to victory, which qualified the Indian team for the AFC Cup after 24 years.

He also showed his brilliance in the 2009 Nehru Cup. In 2011 he scored 7 goals and made India the dominant winners of the SAFF Championship held in India and made a record of scoring the highest number of goals in SAFF Championship breaking I. M. Vijayan’s record of six goals. He was declared the captain for the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualification matches.

A brilliant performance by him again helped India climb the steps of victory in the 2012 Nehru Cup, 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers held in 2017 and 2018 Intercontinental Cup by becoming the top goal scorer of the tournament. After this achievement, he became the second top goal scorer in international football scoring 64 goals. The top goal scorer was Christiano Ronaldo of Portugal. Sunil Chhetri, the goal machine of India, is still going on and may soon become the top goal scorer in the world. 

So, this is all that you want to know about Sunil Chhetri. If you know about something else, do let us know in the comment section.


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