I have been a huge football fan all my life and whenever I was asked who my favourite player was, I said names like Rooney, Ronaldo, and van Persie at different stages of my life. But the answer changed for good when I saw Sunil Chhetri play live in a stadium.

Sunil Chhetri

It was a 2018 Hero Super Cup match in Kalinga Stadium where Chhetri was playing for Bengaluru FC against Neroca FC. And Chhetri was at his electrifying best, scoring a perfect hat-trick – with his left foot, right foot, and a looping header. His passion to compete and hunger to score was unparalleled. Of course, I had read about and watched the Legend on TV many times before, but that day I saw a magician manipulating the ball at his will.


Days later, when he won the tournament and started orchestrating the Viking Clap celebration, everybody in the stadium joined him. That was the moment I realised how special the man is to this diverse nation.

Sunil Chhetri legacy
India Today

With 94 goals in 150 appearances for the Indian National Football Team, he is currently the 4th in the list of top all-time goal scorers for their country, only behind the likes of Messi and Ronaldo. A record 7 times Best Indian Men’s Footballer award winner, he has also led Bengaluru FC to ISL and I-League titles. But these staggering numbers are not enough to justify what a legend he has been in the Indian football folklore for the past 2 decades. 

Sunil Chhetri legacy

Making his debut against Pakistan in Quetta, he showed the guts to celebrate in front of a hostile crowd after scoring his debut goal. He has been the Poster boy of the new wave of football culture in India, passionate and fearless. 

Sunil Chhetri legacy

But just after I had witnessed him lift the Super Cup in a packed stadium, I saw the most heart-breaking video on the internet. The captain of the Indian football team, Chhetri, was pleading with the fans to come and watch the National team games in stadiums. This was in response to the low attendance of fans in the previous game. To this day I still can’t forget when he asked Indian fans to support their national team as passionately they cheer for their favourite European Clubs.

That day I knew that this man was beyond any personal glory and was the true flagbearer of Indian football. Though slowly, he managed to bring fans to the stadium and this clip from 2023 is certain to give you goosebumps.

Truly a modern-day captain, he used social media to inspire the youth to give their everything to their passion. He led by example how discipline and hard work are the key to paramount success.

He is a revolution in Indian football. Having played all over the world, he always worked towards how India can be a football powerhouse. His dream of playing in the World Cup for India might not have been fulfilled. But let’s make sure we cheer and sing the “We’ve got Chhetri, Sunil Chhetri” chant at the top of our lungs when he plays his last game for India at the Salt Lake stadium.

My favourite player Sunil Chhetri in the blue Indian jersey will forever be remembered for most appearances, most goals scored, and most hearts won. He’s an icon in every sense.

Will miss you on the field Captain. Leader. Legend.