Portugal legendary footballer Cristiano Ronaldo needs to watch out as Indian footballer Sunil Chhetri has surpassed Lionel Messi’s tally of most international goals by an active player. With 74 international goals under his belt now, the Indian pride surpassed Messi’s number of goals which stands at 72 and is now eyeing Ronaldo at the top position 103 goals.
Sunil Chhetri surpasses Messi's tally to become 2nd highest international goalscorer among active players
— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) June 8, 2021
Although Indian country predominately features cricket fans who consider cricket as a religion, every sport across the spectrum has a few shining superstars that put the name of country on a pedestal. Be it hockey, chess, golf or wrestling, the country has given all the sport some great names that.
Sunil Chhetri, is one such name that has over the years sparked the interest of Indian teens in football by giving strong competition to other international footballers.
Where did Chhetri stand before the game?
The 36-year-old Indian footballing wizard was once again part of the international record books of football by scoring goals in order to eclipse Leonel Messi and give strong competition to his Portugal competitor Cristiano Ronaldo. Chhetri did so in India’s encounter against Bangladesh in the preliminary qualifying match for the upcoming FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup at Doha’s Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium.
This is how Chhetri created history
Before the match, Chhetri was tied with Argentinian football giant Leonel Messi at 72 international goals. During the match the veteran Indian striker scored 2 crucial goals to surpass Messi. Further, his 2 goals also helped India clinch the victory comfortably and by the end of full time, Bangladesh was reeling at 0-2. In the process of surpassing Messi and helping his team win, Chhetri also went past UAE’s Ali Mabkhout record who has 73 goals under his belt.
“I don’t keep count on number of goals”: Chhetri
After the match, Chhetri in an interview said how he doesn’t keep a count on the number of goals.
“You know, I don’t (on being asked is he counting on a number of goals). Once I’m done in ten years we will talk about all my goals,”
Chhetri also briefly spoke about the game with Bangladesh and admitted how his team missed chances and could have done things better.
“It was tough, frustrating at times. We missed a lot of chances, could have done a lot of things better but in the end, we are happy that we got the three points which were needed,”
Other Impressive Sunil Chhetri Records from his illustrious career
1) Most appearances by a footballer for India
The captain of the Indian football team has appeared in the most number of international football matches (117) for India. The current skipper overtook the former skipper Bhaichung Bhutia who made 107 appearances internationally.
2) First Indian Footballer to play for 3 different continents
Throughout his illustrious career, not only has Chhetri led the Indian football team but was also grabbed by multiple league teams spread across 3 different continents. So far, he has played obviously for Asia, Europe’s Sporting Club de Portugal & North America’s Kansas City Wizards.
3) Most number of AIFF Player of the Year Awards
In 1992, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) started an initiative to reward the best of the best footballers in the country by giving them the Player of the Year Award. Since its inception, Chhetri has been able to get the award 6 times, most for any player.
4) Most number of hattricks by an Indian footballer
The Indian footballer loves scoring in 3s and has scored the most number of hattricks by an Indian footballer so far. Back in 2008, Chhetri scored his first one against Tajikistan in the AFC Challenge Cup. He scored his second one against Vietnam and his third one came against Taipei in 2018.
5) Most number of goals by an Indian in AFC games
With 19 goals under his belt, the veteran striker has the most number of goals in any AFC competition (AFC Cup and AFC Qualifiers).