Sunil Chhetri: The Man Who Made India Fall for Football

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Sunil Chhetri: The Man Who Made India Fall for Football

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander

T

he greatest tragedy in Indian football is that everyone in the country has heard of Sunil Chhetri, but very few have actually seen him play. Today, his reputation has grown beyond that of the man to whom Bhaichung Bhutia passed the torch. He’s now a legend in his own right, despite spending most of his career out of the spotlight.

“Abuse us, criticise us but please come and watch us play,” Chhetri pleaded with folded hands through a video message on Twitter during the Intercontinental Cup, a couple of months ago. It is a moment that will be etched in the memory of football fans for a long time. The plea struck a raw nerve and there was a tsunami of support on social media, from cricketers to news anchors to Bollywood celebrities. Fans flocked to the stadium: With the size of the crowd finally matching his prodigious talents, Sunil Chhetri did what Sunil Chhetri does best, scoring goals and capping off the night with an audacious chip.

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