Sunil Chhetri is one of the greatest footballers we have ever seen, not only in India but also in the world. The veteran player is the third highest goal-scorer among active players in international football right now. Only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have scored more international goals for their respective countries than Chhetri. Here, we shall take a look at five interesting facts we didn’t know about Chhetri.
Chhetri’s Mother Played Football for Nepal
The iconic footballer was born in 1984 to a family in Secunderabad where the mother used to play football for Nepal and the father for the Indian army. Chhetri opened up about his unique connection to the sport in an interview with indiansuperleague.com, “My mum played for the Nepal national team. My father used to play for the battalion, electronics, and mechanical engineer corps. So, getting sports into my system was not difficult. It was natural.”
Only Player in the History of Indian Football To Play in Three Different Continents
Chhetri has played in Asia, Europe and North America, which makes him the only Indian player to play football in three different continents. He had a short stint with the Kansas City Wizards in North America in 2010, where he also made a short 21-minute appearance in a friendly match against Manchester United. Apart from that, Chhetri also represented Sporting Club de Portugal in Europe.
Seven-Time Winner of the AIFF Player of the Year Award
No other Indian player has won the All India Football Federation of the Year (AIFF) award more times than Chhetri, who won it a record seven times in 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2019 and 2022. M Vijayan won the award thrice during his career, whereas the likes of Bhaichung Bhutia and Jo Paul Ancheri won it twice each.
Top Scorer Among Indians in the ISL and the I-League
Chhetri is the highest goal scorer among Indians in both ISL and the I-League. He has 51 ISL goals to his name so far and is far ahead of Jeje Lalpekhlua, the second name on the list with 24 goals. As far as the I-League goes, Chhetri has scored 90 goals. Bhaichung Bhutia is the second name in the list with 89 goals while RC Prakash is third with 49 goals.
Highest number of international and ISL hat-tricks by an Indian
Sunil Chhetri has scored a hat-trick thrice for India and that is the most among Indians in international football. He scored his hat-tricks against Tajikistan, Vietnam and Chinese Taipei in 2008, 2010 and 2018 respectively. His two hat-tricks in the ISL is also the most by an Indian in the history of the league.