Asian Football Confederation has given a grand gift to Indian football’s biggest icon Sunil Chhetri. It could not have been bigger than this for the master craftsman of the sport, who celebrated his 34th birthday on Friday, August 3.
There can be expensive gifts and celebrations. But no price tag or monetary gains can match the decorations of a lifetime. A day after Football Delhi, the governing body for the sport in Delhi, had started celebrating Chhetri’s birthday as the Delhi Football Day, Asian Football Confederation has bestowed a bigger honour on the Indian football team captain.
The continental governing body for football in Asian has named Chhetri an “Asian Icon” for the sport. Chhetri also received effusive praise for rivaling the world’s greatest players of his generation in scoring goals, reports PTI.
The Asian Football Confederation presented Chhetri with an invaluable birthday gift with a throwback of his life and career and the best moments on the field, when he played for India and his clubs, on its official page. The throwback journey begins from his India debut in 2005 in a match against Pakistan.
The 33-year-old Indian football icon, Chhetri is the highest scorer among the active player in Asia with 64 international goals in his 101 matches for India. Only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are ahead of him the world over.
“In the era of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, to be the third highest scoring international footballer in the world is no mean feat, and for an Asian player to be within one goal of Messi’s 65 goals for a national team is a record our latest inductee to the ‘Asian Icons’ list should be proud of,” AFC has stated on its official website “As he turns 34 today, we celebrate the career of Sunil Chhetri, India’s most capped player and all-time top goal scorer.”
“In a cricket-mad nation, Chhetri was raised in a footballing family, where his father represented the Indian Army team while his mother and aunt were international footballers for Nepal. Chhetri caught the football fever, but never imagined how far he would go. Little did the India captain know he would go on to surpass a century of caps and score 21 more international goals since 2015 to rival the world’s greatest players of the generation and lead his nation to a fourth AFC Asian Cup in their history with four goals in the qualifiers,” the AFC write up states.
“Chhetri is showing no signs of slowing down, recently signing a new contract that will keep him at Bengaluru FC until 2021. January’s AFC Asian Cup in the UAE is the next stop for Chhetri who is looking forward to rubbing shoulders with Asia’s finest once more.
“A journey that would take Chhetri to become one of the Indian and Asian football greats started when he signed for Mohun Bagan in 2002.”
Click here to read AFC’s full tribute to Chhetri.