Indian football Captain and the greatest goalscorer of all time in international football, Sunil Chhetri gets a scintillating honour from the parental body of Asian football – The AFC.
Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri was named an ‘Asian Icon’ by the game’s continental governing body on his 34th birthday and received effusive praise for rivalling the world’s greatest players of his generation in scoring international goals. Chhetri is currently the highest goal-scoring active Asian player with 64 strikes from 101 matches, and third in the world after superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) made his birthday a memorable one by presenting, on its official page, the highlights of his life and career. “In the era of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, to be the third-highest scoring international footballer in the world is no mean feat, and for an Asian player to be within one goal of Messi’s 65 goals for a national team is a record our latest inductee on the ‘Asian Icons’ list should be proud of,” AFC wrote.
Describing Chhetri as one of Asia’s greatest footballers, AFC said, “In a cricket-mad nation, Chhetri was raised in a footballing family, his father represented the Indian Army team while his mother and aunt were international footballers for Nepal.”
“Chhetri caught the football fever, but never imagined how far he would go. Little did the India captain know he would go on to surpass a century of caps and score 21 international goals since 2015 to rival the world’s greatest players of the generation and lead his nation to a fourth AFC Asian Cup in their history with four goals in the qualifiers,” AFC said.
Chhetri has played for eight Indian clubs. Beginning with Mohun Bagan, he has played for JCT, East Bengal, Dempo, Chirag United, Churchill Brothers, Mumbai City and Bengaluru FC. He had stints at Kansas City Wizards at the Major League Soccer in the United States and Sporting CP in Portugal. He has won the AFC Challenge Cup (2008), SAFF Cup (2011, 2016) and I-League (2010, 2013, 2014, 2016).