India football icon Sunil Chhetri is celebrating his 36th birthday today. Chhetri can easily lay claim to the tag of ‘greatest footballer’ to have emerged from India, having tasted success at both the club, international and individual level.Also Read - Neeraj Chopra, Ravi Dahiya, Lovlina Borgohain Among 11 Recommended For Khel Ratna Award
Born in Secunderabad, Chhetri is the captain of the Indian national team and his club Bengaluru FC. Also Read - Target is to be in Top 10 in Asia But For that Need Better Players Than Bhutia or Chhetri: Sunil Chhetri
Here are some of the major facts about the most prolific goalscorer in Indian football history. Also Read - Sunil Chhetri Credits Youngsters in Indian Team for SAFF Championships Triumph
#It’s in the genes: Chhetri was born to footballer parents on August 3, 1984 in Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh (now Telangana).
#His dad being an Army officer, Chhetri had to frequently change cities because of different job postings. He thus studied at different schools including Bahai School (Gangtok), Bethany’s (Darjeeling), Loyola School (Kolkata), and Army Public School (New Delhi).
#Chhetri gave up studies after completing his 12th to focus on his professional football career after representing India at the Asian School Championships in 2001.
#His club career began with Mohun Bagan in 2002 for whom he played for three seasons before moving to JCT in 2005.
#His growing reputation saw him land a deal with yet another prolific club in East Bengal in 2008, scoring on debut. The association though lasted for just one season before he moved to Dempo SC in 2010.
#His exploits made impression across the globe. He drew interests from the likes of British clubs Queen Park Rangers, Leeds United, Scottish Premier League team Celtic, Kansas City Wizards, Sporting Lisbon among others.
#He went on to play for Kansas after signing a deal in 2010.
#Chhetri has been adjudged AIFF Player of the year a record six times, FPAI Indian Player of The Year twice.
#In 2011, he was honoured with the Arjuna Award and in 2019, Padma Sri – the fourth-highest civilian award in India.
#Chhetri is a big fan of fancy sports cars and has admitted in the past that were it not for his father, he would have a collection of “10-12 sports cars”.
#He is married to Sonam Bhattacharya, daughter of renowned footballer Subrata Bhattacharya.
#With 75 goals in 115 international appearances, he is the highest ever goal-scorer in Indian football history. Overall, it’s the joint-10th most in international football history and second most after Cristiano Ronaldo (99) among active footballers.