Image Courtesy: Bengaluru FC media

Two finals, three semi-finals and 21 years.

Even for Sunil Chhetri, arguably one of India’s greatest-ever football players, success doesn’t always come easy.

The 38-year-old had won every possible trophy in Indian football, but the Durand Cup – the oldest football tournament in Asia – continued to elude him.

That changed on Sunday as a Chhetri-led Bengaluru FC beat Mumbai City FC 2-1 in the final of Durand Cup 2022 to hand their captain the only missing piece of Indian football silverware in his trophy cabinet.

“That was the dream at the start of the tournament,” an elated Chhetri said after the final.

“But at the start of the tournament, you can never say you are going to win it. But now we can say we are victorious. It is amazing for so many reasons. We have a new team, a new coach. The way we played with a lot of youngsters coming. Me, winning the trophy for the time. BFC winning it for the first time. It is a very joyful day,” he added.

Bengaluru FC and Chhetri have endured some tough times in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) in the last few seasons by their own lofty standards, so the team looked hungry for success all along in the Durand Cup under new head coach Simon Grayson. The squad was also boosted by signings like Roy Krishna, Javi Hernandez, Sandesh Jhingan, Prabir Das and Aleksander Jovanovic.

But as much as the impact of the new signings, a close bond between the players was a big reason for their success. A common cause for those wearing blue was to gift their captain the only medal missing from his illustrious collection.

“I am happy for the legend, Sunil bhai. This is the only trophy he needed, so it was all for him,” said Krishna, highlighting how it was a factor that drove them to glory.

Already a Hero ISL winner and a Super Cup champion, Chhetri added the Durand Cup medal to his kitty in the 21st year of his career.

The forward has also won the Hero I-League title four times and the Federation Cup twice. He also captained Bengaluru FC to the 2016 AFC Cup final which remains the best performance by an Indian club in that competition.

Sunil Chhetri has well and truly won it all but he is far from done yet. With Bengaluru FC looking like a formidable side having already tasted success this season, Chhetri may have more trophies in his hand and medals in his neck come the end of the season.