Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri is probably going through the form of his life. The prolific striker hasn’t put a foot wrong in the just concluded Intercontinental Cup and has led by example throughout the tournament. The talisman scored a brace against Kenya in the summit clash, riding India to a historic victory in Mumbai.
With his double in the final, the Indian wonderboy equalled Lionel Messi’s tally of 64 goals at the international level. Chhetri now sits at the second position in the active international scorers’ chart alongside the Argentine, second to Cristiano Ronaldo (81 goals).
We take the opportunity to look at some rare and amazing facts about the 33-year-old who seems to age like fine wine.
1) Sunil Chhetri was born on 3 August 1984 to K.B. Chhetri, an officer in the Electronics and Mechanical Engineers Corps of the Indian Army, and Sushila Chhetri in Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India.
2) His father played for the Indian Army’s team while his mother and her twin sisters played for the Nepal women’s national team. Chhetri was exposed to playing football from a young age taking part in various tournaments.
3) Sunil Chhetri’s schooling was done at Bahai School in Gangtok and later at Army Public School, Dhaula Kuan , New Delhi. For under-graduation, he got admission in Kolkata’s Asutosh College, but he chose to pursue his dreams and go for football, when he got the chance to represent India at the Asian School Championships in Malaysia in October 2001.
4) In 2009, Sunil Chhetri had agreed a 3-year contract with English side, Queens Park Rangers. But the move could not go through, as he was denied a work permit due to India’s poor FIFA Ranking. According to him, this was one of the lowest points in his career.
5) In the season 2009-10, He realized his dream of playing abroad by joining USA’s MLS outfit Kansas City Wizards, becoming only the third Indian after Mohammed Salem and Bhaichung Bhutia to play professionally for a foreign club.
6) At his time in Kansas City, He played against Manchester United in a match.
7) In 2012, Chhetri became the permanent captain of the Indian national team.
8) In July 2012, Chhetri was signed by Sporting Lisbon ‘B’. However, he didn’t have the best of spells in Portugal as he only managed a few substitute appearances over seven months in a team that was dominated by teenagers.
9) In 2011, Chhetri has also received the prestigious Arjuna award from then President, Pratibha Patil.
10) He is married to Sonam Bhattacharya, daughter of former Indian footballer Subroto Bhattacharya.