The former Indian opener, Gautam Gambhir, football Sunil Chhetri, archer Bombayla Devi, and basketball…
Football in India is yet to hit the ground running, yet one man managed to made a name for himself in the sport. Born in Andhra Pradesh to an Army official, Sunil Chettri, at an early age, started taking part in various footballing tournaments across the country.
Sunil started his professional career with Mohun Bagan in 2002 and went on play for JCT. In 2008, there were rumours that Chhetri was a potential transfer target for Leeds United and a second division club of Portugal and the attacker himself stated:
“Nothing has been confirmed as yet but yes, I think I am close to getting there.”
However, no move ever materialized.
Chhetri then signed for East Bengal and midway through the season, there were news that he was a subject of an interest from two MLS side, namely; Los Angeles Galaxy and D.C. United, however, he rejected MLS in 2009 and went on to have a trial with Coventry City, but only a few days later, Coventry’s manager Chris Coleman said that they won’t be following up on Chhetri.
More foreign interest came in 2009 and Celtic’s scouts were reported to have watched Chhetri and his agent himself stated:
“I’m waiting to get feedback from Celtic, who saw him on Monday by head scout and then another scout came to watch game, I’ll let you know the outcome when I know.”
Then in August, same year, reports came in that he signed a three-year contract with Queens Park Rangers, but the move failed because he was not granted a work permit in England and some sources claimed that this was because India were not in top 70 FIFA rankings.
The following year, Chhetri had a trial with Kansas City Wizards of MLS. One month later he made his debut but was substituted in half time itself. Two months later it was reported that he would play a friendly game against Manchester United and he came on a substitute and his team won the game with 2-1.
In 2012, he left the club eventually.
He signed a two year contract with Sporting Clube de Portugal in the same year, but the move failed he eventually came back. Following that, he joined Bengaluru FC and in his first season, he won the I-League and then again in 2015-16 season.
The all-time top scorer for India, Chhetri is a legend for Indian football and has given his all to the sport. The four time AIFF player of the year, Chhetri is and will be one of the best players to have graced the Indian football turf.
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