Remembering Sunil Chhetri's most memorable Hero ISL moments on his 35th birthday
Sunil Chhetri celebrates his 35th birthday on August 3, 2019. Of these 35, the iconic striker has been playing professional football for almost 18 years, while being an integral part of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) since its second season back in 2015. Over the course of the last four years, the stalwart has gone on to make a total of 57 Hero ISL appearances, scoring a total of 30 goals and has been at the centre-stage of some truly memorable moments, which will forever be etched in fans’ hearts.
To celebrate the captain, leader, legend's 35th birthday, indiansuperleague.com takes a trip down memory lane to look back at some of the icon's most memorable moments in the Hero ISL.
1. Hero ISL debut
Every great story has an origin and Chhetri's affair with Hero ISL began back on October 16, 2015, when he took the field of the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai donning the Mumbai City FC shirt against Chennaiyin FC during Hero ISL 2015. The rest, as they say, is history.
2. Maiden Hero ISL goal
Chhetri returned empty-handed on his debut match but registered his maiden Hero ISL goal in the very next match against Delhi Dynamos FC. On the 13th minute of the match, Chhetri himself initiated the move, putting teammate Sony Norde through on goal. Norde's shot was blocked by Anas Edathodika but Chhetri made sure he slotted in from the rebound. The ace ended the match with a brace, scoring both the goals in the Islanders' 2-0 win.
3. Becoming the first Indian player to score a Hero ISL hat-trick
With Chhetri in the fray, it was only a matter of time before he began making a mark and it took him just 12 days to register his first entry in the Hero ISL record books. On October 28, 2015, in his fourth Hero ISL appearance, Chhetri became the first-ever Indian player to score a hat-trick after putting three past NorthEast United FC during a 5-1 home win.
4. Second Hero ISL hat-trick in a crunch semi-final encounter
Sunil Chhetri’s second Hero ISL hat-trick against FC Pune City
After an uncharacteristically quiet 2016 campaign, Chhetri led Bengaluru FC to the finals of Hero ISL 2017-18 in the team's debut season in the Hero ISL. The talismanic striker was in top form for the Blues throughout the season which saw him score 14 goals and bag the Hero of the League award at the end of the season. His best performance of the campaign, perhaps, came against FC Pune City on March 11, 2018, in a crunch semi-final second leg match. He scored his second Hero ISL hat-trick during the fixture, including a cheeky Panenka and became the only Indian player with multiple hat-tricks under his belt in the competition.
5. Lifting the Hero ISL 2018-19 trophy as Bengaluru FC captain
Sunil Chhetri and his Bengaluru FC teammates celebrate after clinching the Hero ISL 2018-19 title
Having faltered in the final hurdle against Chennaiyin FC in 2017-18, Chhetri took centre-stage yet again in the 2018-19 campaign and was the driving force behind the team's run to the final for the second season on a trot. This time, however, the trophy wouldn't elude the talisman for a second time. Bengaluru triumphed in Extra Time in a closely-fought final against FC Goa on March 17, 2019, and Chhetri realised a dream, lifting the Hero ISL trophy as the team captain.
Happy birthday Sunil Chhetri!
Which one of these Sunil Chhetri moments is your favourite?
Mention your choice in the comments below.