Kolkata, Team India football captain Sunil Chhetri turned 35 on Saturday.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wished him on the occasion.
“Wishing you a very happy birthday, Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11),”
Ms Banerjee posted on her social networking page.
“May you continue to score goals and win matches for India.
@IndianFootball,” she added.
All India Football Federation president Praful Patel in a tweet said, “Blissful
birthday wishes to @IndianFootball Team captain @chetrisunil11.”
“May you continue to score goals and win matches for #India. Wishing you
a long & healthy life,” he added.
Team India cricket captain and FC Goa co-owner Virat Kohli in an interview
with FIFA spoke about his desire to see Sunil Chhetri and the Blue Tigers in
the most prestigious football tournament in the world.
“Honestly, not far off,” Kohli told FIFA.com when asked how far off India were
from sealing a maiden World Cup qualification.
“We have improved drastically in our football over the last three-four years.
With new talent coming in to make the difference, and our skipper Sunil Chhetri
leading the team with amazing composure and inspiration, I see us qualifying
very soon for the World Cup.”
Born on this day in 1984, Chhetri, a professional footballer who plays as a
striker or winger and captains both the Indian Super League side Bengaluru FC
and the Indian national team.
Popularly known as Captain Fantastic, having scored the 2nd highest number
of goals in international matches among active players after Cristiano Ronaldo,
he is both the most-capped player and all-time top goalscorer for the Indian
national team, with 71 goals in 111 appearances.
Chhetri was named an ‘Asian Icon’ by AFC on his 34th birthday.
Chhetri began his professional career at Mohun Bagan in 2002. He then moved
to JCT where he scored 21 goals in 48 games. He signed for the Kansas City
Wizards of Major League Soccer in 2010, becoming the third player from the
subcontinent of note to go abroad.
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.
He helped India win the 2007 Nehru Cup, 2009 Nehru Cup, the 2012 Nehru Cup
as well as the 2011 SAFF Championship.
Chhetri 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.
He then led India in scoring during their short-lived campaign at the 2011 AFC
Asian Cup with two goals.
Chhetri has also been named AIFF Player of the Year a record six times in 2007,
2011, 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018–19.
He was received Arjuna Award in 2011 by the Central Government in recognition
of his outstanding achievement in sports .
Chhetri was received Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian in 2019