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photo-article-logo Saturday, 22 June 2024

In pictures: Six interesting facts about Indian football legend Sunil Chhetri

Sunil Chhetri's remarkable journey from breaking records on the field to championing humanitarian causes off it

Our Web Desk Published 16.05.24, 04:19 PM
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Sunil Chhetri, the captain of the Indian national football team, has etched his name in history by breaking the record for the most AIFF (All India Football Federation) Player of the Year awards won by an Indian player. Chhetri has claimed this prestigious accolade an unprecedented seven times. His journey to this record-breaking feat began in 2007, marking his first recognition as the AIFF Player of the Year. He continued to showcase his exceptional skills on the field, winning the award again in 2011, 2013, and 2014. He secured the title once more in 2017 and 2019. Most recently, Chhetri's enduring talent was honoured in 2022, further solidifying his legacy as one of the greatest footballers in Indian history.

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Chhetri stands out as a remarkable figure in Indian sports, being the only footballer to have received the prestigious Khel Ratna Award, the highest sporting honour bestowed by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in India. This accolade, awarded to him in 2021, is a testament to his exceptional contributions and outstanding achievements in football, marking a historic moment in Indian sports history.

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The footballer was born on August 3, 1984, in Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh (now in Telangana), into a family deeply rooted in football. Chhetri's mother, Sushila Chhetri, was a talented footballer who represented the Nepal women’s national team. Additionally, his father, Kharga Chhetri, served in the Indian Army and also played football at a competitive level, participating in various army tournaments. Sunil Chhetri's upbringing in a sports-oriented environment significantly influenced his path in life.

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In 2018, Sunil Chhetri received a distinguished honour from the continental governing body of football in Asia, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The AFC bestowed upon him the prestigious title of 'Asian Icon,' recognising his outstanding contributions to the sport and his exceptional performances on the field.

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He married his childhood sweetheart, Sonam Bhattacharya, in a heartwarming story of enduring love and commitment. Sonam is the daughter of Subrata Bhattacharya, a revered figure in Indian football and one of Chhetri's coaches.

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During the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, through his extensive social media presence, Chhetri effectively utilised his voice to raise awareness about the severity of the situation and the urgent need for support. He shared informative messages, heartfelt appeals, and updates on relief initiatives, mobilising his followers and fans to join hands in the fight against the pandemic.

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