Indian men’s football team recently added another feather to their cap- the SAFF championship, which the Indian team won after beating Kuwait on penalties. The man behind the win was the inimitable Sunil Chhetri.
Sunil Chhetri, the man who served Indian football for close to two decades, has earned a new accolade, possibly the best ever. Sunil Chhetri now has become the player with the third-highest number of goals in the league of current players.
Sunil Chhetri is preceded by Lionel Messi, and Christiano Ronaldo in the list. Despite India’s popularity as a huge market for football tourism, India has not been able to shed its tag of being a cricket-crazy nation. Neither has the Indian Football team made a mark during the carnivalesque FIFA World Cups.
However, that has never ruined Chhetri’s spirit, who led his country to a modest Inter-continental Cup and SAFF Championship over last three weeks.
The 38-year-old soon-to-be parent goal machine has 93 strikes from 142 matches – the top two positions belonging to Cristiano Ronaldo (123 goals from 200 caps) and Lionel Messi (103 from 175).
Further, Chhetri is also ranked fourth with Iranian legend Ali Daei ahead of him with 109 goals from 148 matches.
What should make every Indian proud is that the list of ten best footballers in the world features stars from countries with an impeccable football lineage – where Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas holds the sixth position (84 goals) and Robert Lewandowski of Poland is ranked eighth (79 goals). The list also includes Sunil Chhetri.
The Blue Tigers – as the national team is called – acquitted well for themselves by qualifying for two Asian Cup finals on the trot now, though a qualifying berth in the World Cup from Asia has remained a pipe dream.
Chhetri who long back appealed to populate stadiums and instill faith in the Indian Football team to the Indian viewers, as much as they populate and sometimes overcrowd a stadium for a cricket match, daunts an overwhelming pride in his jersey.
In interviews where Chhetri is asked about him being a part of the goal-getters race, the Indian Football Team captain borrows the words of Bob Houghton – a respected British coach under whom he began his journey in Indian colors – to put things in perspective: “You cannot have the skills of Ronaldo or score goals like him, but nobody can stop you from working hard as him.”
/ 3 years ago
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