India is a sports-loving country and with passing time various sports like Badminton and Football are gaining popularity after Cricket. One of the major reason for the increased awareness on Football is Indian Football team's captain Sunil Chhetri whose exceptional play has made Indians notice the game much more than earlier.
Recently, Sunil Chhetri was named an 'Asian Icon' by the game's continental governing body on his 34th birthday.
Chhetri is currently the highest goal-scoring active Asian player with 64 strikes from 101 matches and third in the world after superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
"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," the AFC wrote.
"As he turns 34 today, we celebrate the career of Sunil Chhetri, India's most capped player and all-time top goal scorer."
Describing Chhetri as one of Asia's greatest footballers, the AFC said, "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 said.
The AFC said even at 34, "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."
He has won the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008, SAFF Cup in 2011, 2016 and I-League in 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2016. His birthday is celebrated as Football Delhi Day by the state body of the game in Delhi where he now resides.
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