Sunil Chhetri – Captain, Leader, Legend

sunil chhetri – captain, leader, legend

Sunil Chhetri – Captain, Leader, Legend

It spoke volumes of football’s place on the margins of Indian society that Sunil Chhetri became better known after a social media video where he, literally, invited abuse. Six years on, if Indian football is in a better place, much of the credit has to go to the leadership and goals that he continued to provide as he approached his 40th birthday.

That video went viral on the eve of Chhetri’s 100th cap against Kenya in Mumbai in June 2018. “To all of you, who have lost hope or don’t have any hope in Indian football, we request you to come and watch us in the stadium,” he said, with the air of someone seeking alms. “I mean, it’s not fun to criticise and abuse on the Internet. Come to the stadium, do it on our face, scream at us, shout at us, abuse us. Who knows, one day we might change you guys, you might start cheering for us.”

By then, Chhetri had already scored 59 international goals. Among active players, only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – who inhabit another football plane – had scored more. With Chhetri announcing that the World Cup qualifier against Kuwait on June 6 would be his last, he will sadly not join that duo and Iran’s Ali Daei in finding the net over 100 times for his country. He currently has 94 goals from 150 appearances.

Virat Kohli, India’s most popular sportsperson by a distance, led the tributes to Chhetri by replying to his Instagram post with the words: “My Brother, PROUD.” It’s no exaggeration to say that Chhetri was second only to Kohli when it came to the affection he received from Bengaluru’s sports lovers. Half a decade ago, when Bengaluru FC were the best team in the Indian Super League (ISL), it wasn’t uncommon for more than 10,000 fans to flock to every home game. Most of the West Block Blues would be wearing Chhetri-11 shirts, and ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ banners and chants were part of every match.

After that 100th cap, which helped shine a light on the way football had been neglected for decades, Chhetri was instrumental in the national team’s best result of the 21st century – a 4-1 thrashing of Thailand in Abu Dhabi in the 2019 Asian Cup. But for a late, late penalty scored by Bahrain, India would have made the second round of that tournament.

Under Igor Stimac, results have waxed and waned, but the very fact that India went into another Asian Cup this January with great expectations was a reminder of how Chhetri had helped changed the narrative. His love for the game and impeccable work ethic will be greatly missed, but the time is right for others to carry forward the torch he lit.

In exclusive arrangement with RevSportz

OTHER NEWS

2 hrs ago

Helicopter carrying six pilgrims in Kedarnath makes emergency landing

2 hrs ago

SRH Owner Kavya Maran’s Happiness Knows No Bounds as RR Skipper Sanju Samson Falls

2 hrs ago

IPL 2024: Pat Cummins into another final as SRH choke RR, set up title clash vs KKR

2 hrs ago

Sanjay Leela Bhansali denies casting Sharmin Segal just because she’s his niece, says he put her ‘through the grind with innumerable tests’

2 hrs ago

'Fear Is Very Important..', MS Dhoni Explains How Pressure Has Helped Him Make Right Decisions

2 hrs ago

‘India would have progressed at faster pace if…’: NSA Ajit Doval

2 hrs ago

Lok Sabha polls phase 6: Day before Delhi decides, AAP accuses LG of poll interference

2 hrs ago

After nearly walking away from Man City, Kyle Walker is reaping the rewards for staying

2 hrs ago

Fernandes urges troubled Man Utd to match his expectations

3 hrs ago

Manoj Bajpayee says he struggles to understand Christopher Nolan films: 'I would have understood 'Oppenheimer' better...'

3 hrs ago

Havells India, Samvardhana Motherson International & others hit 52 week high today ; Do you own any?

3 hrs ago

World Court set to rule today on plea to halt Israel's Rafah offensive in Gaza

3 hrs ago

‘Do not travel’: US issues severe warning for this country

3 hrs ago

UK's New Visa Rules Here's How The Changes Will Impact Indians

3 hrs ago

Health benefits of green tea: Drink 4 glasses daily for 4 months to reduce oxidative stress, cancer risk

3 hrs ago

Avneet Kaur's Indian Gesture At Cannes 2024 Will Win Your Hearts - Watch

3 hrs ago

Bigg Boss 17 winner Munawar Faruqui admitted to hospital; close friend shares a photo of the standup comedian

3 hrs ago

Stackable plants: Best gardening tip you can follow this summer

3 hrs ago

Shah Rukh Khan Health Update: Juhi Chawla Shares Superstar Is Feeling Much Better, Will Attend IPL Final

3 hrs ago

Connor McDavid's 2OT goal gives Oilers win over Stars in Game 1

3 hrs ago

Lok Sabha elections phase 6: 11.13 crore voters to cast vote in 58 seats to seal fate of 889 candidates| 10 points

3 hrs ago

Delhi Lok Sabha Election: Voting date, candidates in fray, schedule| All you need to know

3 hrs ago

Virat Kohli thanks RCB fans with heartwarming post after crashing out of IPL 2024

3 hrs ago

'When someone bowls over 140, we salivate. But no one talks about him': Gavaskar calls for India call-up for RR star

3 hrs ago

Alia Bhatt's Hollywood Debut Heart Of Stone Nabs Second Place On Netflix's Most Watched Movies List For Second Half of 2023

3 hrs ago

Jawa 42 Bobber Red Sheen variant launched in India, priced at ₹2.30 lakh

3 hrs ago

2024 Force Gurkha SUV: Five reasons to buy or not to buy

3 hrs ago

Kia EV3 launch date in India: 600km range, 8.3kWh battery pack - All about Kia's 4th electric car

3 hrs ago

'I have 2011 World Cup at my house': Suresh Raina's savage reply to Pakistani journalist attempting to troll him for Shahid Afridi comment

3 hrs ago

Lay the perfect foundation: How millennials, Gen Z can build an ideal home loan strategy

3 hrs ago

Forces for Good: Cartier celebrates 2024 impact entrepreneurship awardees

4 hrs ago

Cannes Film Festival 2024: Here's what international reviews say about India's All We Imagine As Light

4 hrs ago

NIIT Group Q4 Results: Outlook On Growth Guidance, Revenue, Dividend & More | Rajendra Singh Pawar

4 hrs ago

"Outstanding talent, brilliant batter to watch": Virat Kohli heaps praise on Dinesh Karthik

4 hrs ago

Petronet LNG dividend 2024, record date - Latest news

4 hrs ago

Sachin Tendulkar praises daughter Sara Tendulkar as she completes Master's 'With Distinction' in Clinical & Public Health Nutrition

4 hrs ago

Amazon India's future plan: How the e-commerce behemoth is taking on its competitors

4 hrs ago

IPL's highest wicket-taker Yuzvendra Chahal registers unwanted record

4 hrs ago

Netflix’s most-watched Indian movies and shows: Kareena Kapoor’s Jaane Jaan is number one, The Railway Men matches Money Heist Berlin in viewership

4 hrs ago

'Modiji, Please Help': Punjab Families Seek Release of Sons Captured In Iran

Kênh khám phá trải nghiệm của giới trẻ, thế giới du lịch