Indian Football

Sunil Chhetri: 5 interesting facts about India's footballing icon

Arjun Singh Devgan
Chhetri is India's most popular footballer
Chhetri is India's most popular footballer / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages
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Sunil Chhetri is without doubt the most popular footballer in India and is one of the greatest players produced by the country. The striker is one of the few Indian players to have played in a foreign league and will go down as the greatest goalscorer in the history of Indian football.

Here, we take a look at some interesting facts and numbers of the superstar.

1. India's all-time record goalscorer

Sunil Chhetri
India v Bahrain - AFC Asian Cup Group A / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

Chhetri has scored a staggering 80 goals in 125 appearances for the Blue Tigers which means that he is the country's all-time record goalscorer. The striker made his his international debut in 2005 and will surely add more goals to his tally by the time he decides to hang up his boots.

2. Won AIFF award a record six times

Sunil Chhetri
India v United Arab Emirates - AFC Asian Cup Group A / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

The striker has so far been awarded the All India Football Federation (AIFF) award six times, which is a record for an Indian footballer. He has won the award in 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2019.

3. Has played for 11 clubs so far

Sunil Chhetri
AFC Cup Final 2016: JSW Bengaluru v Air Force Club - Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

He has played for 11 clubs so far in his career ever since making his debut for Mohun Bagan in the 2002/03 season. Some of his most notable clubs are East Bengal, Kansas City Wizards, Mumbai City FC and current club, Bengaluru FC.

4. Been Player of the Tournament in all of India's SAFF trophy wins

India v United Arab Emirates - AFC Asian Cup Group A
India v United Arab Emirates - AFC Asian Cup Group A / Etsuo Hara/GettyImages

That he is the man for the biggest stages is seen by the fact that he has led India to three South Asian Football Federation Championship (SAFF) wins so far in his career - in 2011, 2015 and 2021.

In fact, he has been named the Player of the Tournament in all of the three title wins.

5. First footballer to be awarded the Khel Ratna

Sunil Chhetri
India v Bahrain - AFC Asian Cup Group A / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

In 2021, the 37-year-old was given the Khel Ratna Award, which is the highest sporting honour given to an athlete in India. What made this even more special was that Chhetri became the first footballer to win the award.

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