Sunil Chhetri who became the first Indian footballer to be conferred with the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award said that the journey that he has been through in the last 16 years has been nothing short of a dream.
“I am thrilled, I am really thankful and honoured. I have always said that it is a dream that I have gone through, and it would not have been possible without my family, teammates and coaches I have played under,” Chhetri said.
“It has been amazing to play for the National team, for so many years, for the number of matches, it has been an outstanding journey,” said the 36-year-old talismanic India captain in an AIFF release.
Since his India debut on June 12, 2005 against Pakistan in Quetta, Chhetri has rewritten the country’s football history many times and he has now added another feather in his cap by being named for the country’s highest sporting award.
With 80 strikes from 125 international matches, he is currently tied with Argentine superstar Lionel Messi on number of goals among active players. He is one of the few Indian footballers who have won the Padma Shri and has also been conferred with the Arjuna Award. He is the first footballer to win the Khel Ratna, the country’s highest sporting award.