New Delhi: Sunil Chhetri, one of the greatest footballers the country has produced, played his 100th international match on Monday when India took on Kenya in Intercontinental Cup at Mumbai Football Arena. He is both the most-capped player and all-time top goalscorer for Indian national team, with 61 goals in 99 appearances. He is also the current captain of the national team.
Earlier, in his 99th match, Chhetri scored a hat-trick to seal the game for India against Chinese Taipei and equalled David Villa’s record of 59 goals. After the match on Saturday, he made an impassioned plea to all fans of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo: “Abuse us, criticize us but please come to watch the Indian national team.” India cricket captain Virat Kohli was the first to support Chettri, urging sports lovers to come forward and watch the national football side play, in an Instagram post.
This is nothing but a small plea from me to you. Take out a little time and give me a listen. pic.twitter.com/fcOA3qPH8i
— Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) June 2, 2018
This is nothing but a small plea from me to you. Take out a little time and give me a listen, Sunil tweeted.
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) June 3, 2018
“C’mon India… Let’s fill in the stadiums and support our teams wherever and whenever they are playing,” sachin tweeted.
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) June 5, 2018
The last two years have been fantastic for @IndianFootball and last night again they showed that they mean business. A great 3 nil victory over Kenya. Well done champ @chetrisunil11!! #INDvKEN, Virat tweeted.
The 34-year-old striker, Sunil Chhetri plays for Indian club Bengaluru FC in the Indian Soccer League. He is both the most-capped player and all-time top goal scorer for Indian national team. Chhetri began his professional career at Mohun Bagan in 2002. He then moved to JCT where he scored 21 goals in 48 games.
However, that stint in the United States did not last long and soon he was back in India’s I-League where he played for Chirag United and Mohun Bagan before going back abroad. This time he was signed by Sporting Clube de Portugal of the Primeira Liga where he played for the club’s reserve side.
Chhetri overtook USA international Clint Dempsey and drew level with David Villa after he scored a hat-trick against Chinese Taipei, to climb to joint third on the list of the highest active international goalscorers in football. Sunil Chhetri has scored 59 goals in 99 matches he played so far and became the 3rd highest active goalscorer in the world only behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He is just 5 goals away from touching Lionel Messi’s record of 64 goals.
Top 5 active goal scorers in International football
In 2007 Nehru Cup, 2009 Nehru Cup, the 2012 Nehru Cup as well as the 2011 SAFF Championship. He was also one of India’s best players during the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup in which India won the tournament and thus qualified for their first AFC Asian Cup in 27 years.
Meanwhile, In the second match of Intercontinental Cup Kenya defeated New Zealand as they played an attacking brand of football to register a come-from-behind victory as they outclassed a superior New Zealand 2-1.