Sunil Chhetri has matched the feat of Lionel Messi among his contemporaries for the second highest number of international goals. The Indian football team captain and the Argentine are now tied at 64 goals, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo.
Chhetri himself does not like any comparison with Messi and Ronaldo, the two among the all-time greats of global football. However, the numbers do matter. And, these numbers put Chhetri, the most successful striker ever for India, in the league of the greats. Instead, marginally above the best – in his scoring prowess. There can be no argument on the class, but the record book in sports is governed by sheer numbers, class matters on the field.
For records, Chhetri’s name, for now, will be listed above Messi and only behind Ronaldo for the highest number of international goals.
Even Quentin Tarantino couldn’t have written a better script. Sunil Chhetri, a national hero, pleaded with his fellow countrymen to come and watch his team play in the stadium after a low attendance in India’s 5-0 win over Chinese Taipei in the Intercontinental Cup. By the end of the tournament, Chhetri had played his 100th international match, won India the tournament, and equalled the record of Lionel Messi for the number of international goals.
Ronaldo till date has netted 81 goals for Portugal in his 150 appearances for Portugal. Chhetri and Messi have 64 each. While Chhetri matched Messi with his brace in the Continental Cup final against Kenya on Sunday, on his 101st appearance for India. Messi has donned the Argentine jersey on 124 occasions for his 64 international goals.
Chhetri has been in an enviable form throughout the tournament. He has netted eight goals in four outings, including 5 against Chinese Taipei with a hat-trick. He has also been the driving factor to drive Indian football fan to the stadium. Following his personal appeal on social media, the stadium was a complete sell-out for his 100th international against Kenya in spite of torrential rain in Mumbai.
The Indian skipper did not disappoint thousands of his fans thereafter with his brilliant run culminating into the title triumph for India.