Sunil Chhetri only behind Ronaldo, Messi; surpasses Villa's 59 goal record

Indian player Sunil Chhetri (Blue jersey no. 11) and Chinese Taipei player Wei-Chuan Chen (White jersey no. 6) vie for the ball during the Hero Intercontinental football Cup in Mumbai. Photo: PTI
Sunil Chhetri, one of the greatest footballers the country has produced, played his 100th international match on Monday when India took on Kenya in Intercontinental Cup at Mumbai Football Arena. He broke David Villa's record of 59 goals by scoring two goals, which took his tally to 61 goals for the Indian National Team. Now, he is only behind Ronaldo (81 goals) and Messi (64 goals) in terms of International goals.

Jeje Lalpekhlua scored the 2nd goal in today's match, helping India bag 3-0 win. The game started on a slow note due to heavy rain.

Earlier, in his 99th match, Chhetri scored a hat-trick to seal the game for India against Chinese Taipei and equalled David Villa's record of 59 goals. After the match on Saturday, he made an impassioned plea to all fans of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo: “Abuse us, criticize us but please come to watch the Indian national team.” India cricket captain Virat Kohli was the first to support Chettri, urging sports lovers to come forward and watch the national football side play, in an instagram post.


With less than two weeks left for Fifa World Cup 2018 to begin and broadcasters urging fans of the 'beautiful game' to profess their love for their 'doosri country' via hashtags and advertisements, the nation's all-time highest goal-getter demanded some love and affection for their 'first country'.


What Sunil Chettri said in the twitter post


"To all of you who are fans of big European clubs and support European clubs with so much passion and sometimes you guys think that the level is not the same, so why do you waste your time? Agreed, the level is not the same, not even close but with our desire and determination, we will try our best to make your time worth," Chhetri's plea was not only about accepting where they stand but also what little they want from the fans. "To all of you, who have lost hope or don't have any hope in Indian football, we request you to come and watch us in the stadium," the skipper said. Chhetri also requested the critics of Indian football -- please abuse but make the 'Blue Tigers' feel relevant. "I mean it's not fun to criticise and abuse othe n internet. Come to the stadium, do it on our face, scream at us, shout at us, abuse us, who knows one day we might change you guys, you might start cheering for us. You guys have no idea how important you guys are and how important your support is," the skipper appealed.

This is nothing but a small plea from me to you. Take out a little time and give me a listen.

— Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) June 2, 2018


"I request you all to please come ...Talk about the game, go back home, have discussions, make banners. Please get involved, this is an important time and juncture in Indian football and football in India needs you guys", Sunil Chettri further added.


What Sachin Tendulkar said in the twitter post


In a video posted on his official Twitter account, Tendulkar encouraged fans to support athletes, regardless of which sport they play, and said that it was really important that sports lovers stand behind them. He wrote, “C’mon India… Let’s fill in the stadiums and support our teams wherever and whenever they are playing” and tagged Indian football and their captain Chhetri in his tweet. “I feel it is important to support and encourage our athletes, be it football, hockey, badminton, tennis, wrestling, cricket. It is really important that we stand behind them. Our athletes go through rigours training sessions to bring laurels to our nation. The dream is to represent the nation and it is India,” he said.

C'mon India... Let's fill in the stadiums and support our teams wherever and whenever they are playing. @chetrisunil11 @IndianFootball

— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) June 3, 2018

Suni Chettri career and records


The 34-year-old striker, Sunil Chhetri plays for Indian club Bengaluru FC in the Indian Soccer League. He is both the most-capped player and all-time top goal scorer for Indian national team. Chhetri began his professional career at Mohun Bagan in 2002. He then moved to (Jagatjit Cotton & Textile Football Club) JCT where he scored 21 goals in 48 games. He was signed by the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer in 2010, becoming the third player from the subcontinent of note to go abroad. However, that stint in the United States did not last long and soon he was back in India's I-League where he played for Chirag United and Mohun Bagan before going back abroad. This time he was signed by Sporting Clube de Portugal of the Primeira Liga where he played for the club's reserve side.


Chhetri overtook USA international Clint Dempsey and drew level with David Villa after he scored hat-trick against Chinese Taipei, to climb to joint third on the list of the highest active international goalscorers in football. Sunil Chhetri has scored 59 goals in 99 matches he played so far and became the 3rd highest active goalscorer in the world only behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He is just 5 goals away from touching Lionel Messi’s record of 64 goals.


Top 5 active goal scorers in International football


Player Name Country Goals
Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal 81
Lionel Messi Argentina 64
David Villa Spain 59
Sunil Chhetri India 61
Clint Dempsey USA 57


Sunil Chhetri major achievements

He helped India win the 2007 Nehru Cup, 2009 Nehru Cup, the 2012 Nehru Cup as well as the 2011 SAFF Championship. He was also one of India's best players during the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup in which India won the tournament and thus qualified for their first AFC Asian Cup in 27 years. He then led India in scoring during their short-lived campaign at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup with two goals. Chhetri has also been named AIFF Player of the Year four times in 2007, 2011, 2013 and 2014.


Meanwhile, In the second match of Intercontinental Cup Kenya defeated New Zealand as they played an attacking brand of football to register a come-from-behind victory as they outclassed a superior New Zealand 2-1.