WITH 93 goals in his kitty, India’s talismanic captain Sunil Chhetri has a personal milestone – he is the fourth-highest scorer in the international football.
What’s even more impressive is the fact that he lies third behind the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo (123) and Lionel Messi (102) among the active players.
A glance at the top scorers table (box alongside) reveals that he has scored more goals than the legendary Pele.
FIFA documentary: Not many are aware that football’s world governing body FIFA has made a documentary on him. Titled ‘Captain Fantastic’, it is available on the FIFA website.
Speaking to Blitz India, Chhetri in his usual style tries to play down his being the third most active goal scorer. “I don’t think I am happy with my ranking in the world list of goal scorers. It’s good to know that I am behind Cristiano and Lionel, but what matters to me more is when India wins a tournament,” he said.
When quizzed how it felt to be featured in the list of the world’s best, Chhetri said he was happy about it. “I am happy to be in a list which includes some of the biggest names. Having said that I also realise how much more I have to work hard and improve,” he said in his typical unassuming way.
World rankings: What makes Chhetri’s achievements all the more creditable is when one takes into account India’s current standing in the FIFA world rankings. We are ranked 140 in the FIFA rankings unlike countries such as Argentina (No.1) and Portugal (No. 9), which Messi and Ronaldo represent respectively.
The sheer importance of Chhetri’s 93 international goals and his longevity are something which goes beyond mere statistics. In modern day football, where the best of players is dogged by injuries and poor form, Chhetri has shown that he has the fire in the belly to keep on scoring for nearly two decades – something very few footballers have done at the international level.
Fitness the key: Fitness holds the key to Chhetri’s career. He indulges himself in broccolis and other lowfat diet rather than kebab, biryani and other calorie-rich food which he is so fond of. “I am aware that diet is the main ingredient for a player’s fitness. I am very particular about my diet and don’t indulge at all,” he said.
It must be mentioned here that Sunil Chhetri has been conferred with the Arjuna Award in 2011, the Padma Shri in 2019 and the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award in 2021.