While India won the Intercontinental Cup 2018 title by defeating Kenya, by scoring eight out of India"s 11 goals in the Intercontinental Cup 2018, Sunil Chhetri created history and became the second-highest active goal scorer in international football after Lionel Messi, with both having scored 64 goals for their respective nations
“Abuse us but please support the team”, an emotional yet hard-hitting appeal was made by the captain of Indian football team Sunil Chhetri to all Indians to support the national football team, in between of the Intercontinental Cup 2018.
The poor turnout at the match against Chinese Taipei on June 2 in which Chhetri scored a hat-trick after an 8-year gap bound him to make an appeal to get behind the Indian football team. The prominent people like footballer Baichung Bhutia, cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar and Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore supported the call immediately.
As the Indian football team took on Kenya in the final of the Intercontinental Cup 2018 at the Mumbai Football Arena on June 10 night in front of the tight-packed stadium, nobody had any idea that they are going to witness the historic moments. While Indian team won the cup with a 2-0 win over Kenya in the clash, inspirational Indian captain Sunil Chhetri scored a brace to put himself on par with Lionel Messi as the second-highest active goal scorer in international football, with both having scored 64 goals for their respective nations. While Chhetri has reached the milestone in 102 games, Messi has taken 124 games for the same. Both the goals in the final were scored by the skipper Sunil Chhetri.
The 33-year-old Chhetri was the attraction of the tournament. Eight out of India"s 11 goals scored by Chhetri tells the story of his splendid performance throughout the tournament. He had scored three against Chinese Taipei, two each against Kenya in the league game and the final and one against New Zealand.
Chhetri has been India"s main man since at least seven years now and for all those years, he has been leading the football. But the time has come to recognise his achievements and give the respect to the footballer in this cricket crazy nation.
He is the man who created his own niche in football and has time and again brought glory for India in the sport that faces a dearth of players.
Born on August 3, 1984, Sunil Chhetri’s father worked in Army and played football for army whereas his mother and twin sisters played for Women’s national team of Nepal.
He started his career during early days with Delhi city FC during 2001-2002. But his real journey started when he started playing for the famous Kolkata club – Mohun Bagan.
On March 30, 2004, Chhetri debuted for the Indian U-20 team in the Asian games held in Pakistan. Chhetri’s first prominent International tournament was the 2007 Nehru cup where he outshined by scoring 4 goals in the tournament and leading India to the victory after 1997.
Football is one of the most popular games globally but for a cricket frenzy country like India, it has never seen much of great players that can put forth the limelight onto the Indian Football. Players like Sunil Chhetri can be an inspiration for budding talents in the game.
One can say that Indian Football is witnessing one of the most successful days. It is time to appreciate the spirit of Indian Football team members and support the game like we support other games, then only the appeal of Chhetri to the people will bear the fruit.