Popularly known as Captain Fantastic, Indian professional footballer Sunil Chhetri is the captain of the Indian national football team. Chhetri was born on 3 August 1984 in Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India and plays at the position of winger or striker. The national football team under him won the Nehru Cup in the years 2007, 2009 and 2012. He is second on the list of active international goal scorers in football, standing behind Christiano Ronaldo.
Since his father was in the Army and had to constantly move places, Chhetri did not do his schooling from various parts of India. He did his schooling from Bahai School in Gangtok, Bethany School in Darjeeling, Loyola School in Kolkata and Army Public School in New Delhi. He attended Asutosh College in Kolkata.
Chhetri was born to KB Chhetri and Sushila Chhetri. His parents are from Nepal. They had migrated to India. His father is a retired officer from the Electronics and Mechanical Engineering Corps of Indian Army. His father used to play football for the Indian Army’s team. His mother was also a part of and played for Nepal’s women national team. So it can be inferred that football had always been an integral part of Sunil Chhetri’s childhood. He also has a younger sister named Bandana Chhetri.
Sunil Chettri is married to Soman Bhattacharya. Sonam is the daughter of Chettri’s coach Subrata Bhattacharya. Subrata Bhattacharya has been a former Indian national football player and also a Mohun Bagan legend.
Sunil was 18 when he first met Sonam when she texted him to meet her after stealing his number from her father and Sunil’s coach Subrata Bhattacharya’s phone. She told him that she is a big fan of his and they should meet. Bhattacharya would always talk about Sunil at home which made young Sonam, who was then 15, curious to meet him. They met but afterwards when Sunil got to know she was his coach’s daughter they stopped talking. But that hiatus did not last long and soon that started chatting again. And gradually as they grew up their bond became stronger and they fell in love.
In an interview, Sunil was that he was very nervous to ask Sonam’s hand for marriage from his coach. And he was over the moon when they got approval to get married. They dated for 13 years before they finally got married on 4 December 2017 in a grand wedding ceremony held in Kolkata. Sonam calls herself Chettri’s biggest fan. She has always been with him through his happy as well as rough times. As for Chettri, he cannot imagine his past without her nor his future.
Chhetri started playing football at a young age. He began playing professional football in 2002. He played for Mohun Bagan in the Nation Football League’s 2002-03 season. He scored four goals in the season. He played with Mohun Bagan till 2005 in which he scored 8 goals in total in 18 appearances. Since then Chhetri has played for national clubs such as Jagatji Cotton and Textile Football Club (JCT), Sporting Club East Bengal, Dempo Sports Club, Bengaluru Football Club and Mumbai City Football Club.
He became part of India U20 National Team in 2004 and in 2005 he got a chance to play for Indian national football team. He scored his first international goal on 12 June 2005 against Pakistan. He is the all-time top goal scorer of Indian national football team.
On 24 March 2010 Chettri was signed by Sporting Kansas City (an American professional soccer club) of Major League Soccer. He then became the third Indian footballer to play outside South Asia.
Sunil Chettri was awarded the Arjuna award in 2011 for his par excellence achievement in sports. He has also been awarded India’s fourth highest civilian award Padma Shri in 2019. He has been the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Player of the Year 6 times ( in 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018). He was awarded the Football Ratna Award by Delhi Football Association in 2019. He was the first recipient of this award. He has also been awarded by Indian Sports Honour with Player of the Year in 2018, Spirit of Sports Honour in 2019 and Sportsman of the Year 2019 in 2020.
Sunil Chhetri is the richest Indian footballer. His net worth is approximately $570K ( Five Hundred Seventy Thousand Dollars). His primary source of income is the Bengaluru Football club and Indian national football team. He had also signed a three-year deal with PUMA in 2019.