Baichung ‘extremely proud’ of Chhetri after he breaks all-time record
India and Bengaluru FC striker Sunil Chhetri edged past legendary Blue Tigers forward Baichung Bhutia to become the most capped Indian player with 108 appearances under his belt. Bhutia had previously held the record with 107 caps to his name, but the 34-year-old Chhetri overtook the Indian great when he captained the national team in the 3-1 defeat to Curacao on Wednesday in the King’s Cup opener.
The former India captain was extremely proud of the achievements of his 2011 AFC Asian Cup strike partner and congratulated him upon the completion of the milestone. He said, “I am extremely proud of him. Big congratulations to you Sunil! He has been a great leader and a great player for India. I hope he continues to perform in the manner he has been doing. You could always see the kind of committed player he was since we first met in Kolkata. His hunger to succeed always made him special.”
Chhetri has been a mainstay in the Blue Tigers set up for years now with his responsibilities evolving from that of a player to more of a leader. The Blues striker was immaculate for the Indian team that almost made it to the next round of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, scoring twice in the historic win over Thailand. He has, in total, scored a record 68 goals for the country, with the first coming close to 14 years ago against Pakistan.
In the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL), Chhetri has been no less of an influence, scoring and assisting goals at will for Bengaluru. He was the top-scoring Indian player in the 2017-18 campaign with 14 goals from 21 matches, although it wasn’t enough to win Bengaluru the title. That was rectified in the 2018-19 season as he led them to their maiden Hero ISL crown while scoring nine goals from 19 matches – again, the highest among Indian players. The 34-year-old striker has in all scored 23 goals and provided five assists in 40 Hero ISL appearances.