Sunil Chhetri is the face of Indian football. If you were to ask a random person to name one footballer of the Indian team, it is most likely that the name is going to be Sunil Chhetri. He has made 108 appearances for the Indian National Team making him the most capped player for the country and he is still going strong at the age of 34. He is a forward in the sense that he can do both, play on the wing as well as at the centre. His illustrious career started back in his youth club, “City Football Club’. Later he got his breakthrough in Mohun Baghan, where he scored 8 goals in 18 appearences. Later, he went on to play for several clubs most notably Kansas City Wizards and Sporting CP.
Sunil now on 68 goals, is the world’s second highest goal scorer for his national team just behind Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo has a whopping 85 goals to his name. Sunil is ahead of many world class players such as Lionel Messi, Neymar, Ibrahimovic in terms of goals scored for the national team. He is currently playing for Bengaluru FC for whom he has scored 58 goals.
Sunil is commonly called ‘Captain Fantastic’ as he is the former captain of the Indian team replaced by Sandesh Jhingan. Sunil as a forward is a poacher or a target man as he is not extremely skilled in his dribbling nor is he crazy fast. Sunil is not very physically strong. What he is, is a positional striker who examines the game and is always in the right space at the right time, which is very well proved by his goal scoring statistics. Sunil is also very cautious about his diet and regime. He was the one who was able to bring changes in other player’s philosophy regarding football.
Though India is the second biggest country in the world, the rise of football in the nation is still very much a work in progress and Chhetri had to make a plea for fans to turn out for his 100th appearance and as a result the next game was sold out. Indian Football needs players like Sunil Chhetri to make the beautiful game more reachable to Indians all over the country.