Indian National Football Team captain Sunil Chhetri has reached the peak of Indian football having enlisted himself as one of the all-time top active goalscorers on the international stage, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo (128 goals), Ali Daei (109 goals) and Lionel Messi (106 goals).

Preparing to battle Afghanistan at home in the second round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, the 39-year-old has already amassed 93 international goals to his name. 

Having made his debut back in 2005, Chhetri has won 11 trophies with the Blue Tigers. 

Speaking to, Captain Fantastic shared insights into his glorious career reminiscing his journey so far. 

With the fixture in Guwahati set to be his 150th appearance donning the national team jersey, Chhetri is on the verge of becoming only the 41st player in football history to record such a feat. 

When I started, it never occurred to me that I could play for the country one day. In fact, even a few days back, I was not aware that I was on the verge of such a record. When you pause and think about it, it’s an unbelievable feat. I’m very fortunate, extremely thankful, and highly privileged to be in this state. I think I’m the only one to play 150 games for the country in India. I’m really fortunate that I got such an opportunity,” stated Chhetri in the interview. 

He added, “When I was playing the Subroto Cup in Delhi, I didn’t even think or dream that I would play for the country.

The Telangana-born player has bagged a goal in each of his 25th, 50th, 75th, 100th, and 125th matches representing the country, giving hope that the talisman might find a winner for India in his 150th match as well. 

But, Chhetri claims he was unaware of having registered such a stat and doesn’t want to think about these statistics when on the field. 

I wasn’t aware of this stat. If you ask any player, they will not be thinking about such stats. Even if they know some stats, the moment the kick-off whistle goes, they will forget about it,” he shared.

On being asked about his most memorable and difficult game so far on the international stage, Chhetri recalled, “For a very strange reason, there was an AFC Challenge Cup after the 2011 AFC Asian Cup that we played in Myanmar. That was the first step towards qualification for the Asian Cup. We played horribly and ended up losing a match that we should not have lost. That was one of the big reasons why we missed out in 2015.”

“I think the Myanmar game, in particular, we didn’t turn up at all. And what was at stake is exactly why I think it was one of the most difficult games. Not because of the opponents, not for any other reason, but we later realised what an opportunity we missed, if we had carried on, we could have played the Asian Cup in 2015,” he continued.

The Bengaluru FC forward has felt distinct differences from how he was in his earlier days compared to where he stands now, carrying the weight of leading his national football team. 

“There are a lot of differences, but that probably comes because of my age and the number of games I’ve played. I’m more experienced now. I know what works for me and what does not. Also, many of my mistakes on the pitch have made me wiser in hindsight. I think I was more fearless back then,” stated Chhetri.

He further said, “I cared less about what was going on around me, I wasn’t bothered at all, and I’m saying that in a good way. The onus was not on me. Everything is different now, probably because I’ve played so many games.” 

Accrediting his first international-level coach Sukhwinder Singh for his development, he added, “I wasn’t exactly the thing that a lot of people associate with me today. They call me ‘Captain Cool’, but I wasn’t always so cool and calm.  I was quite mischievous, I was quite haywire. I tried a lot of things on and off the pitch. He (Sukhwinder Singh) helped me understand what serious football is, and with the help of others who came later as well, he had a massive role in turning that little boy in me into a man.”

The veteran hopes his landmark 150 appearances on the international stage will inspire the youngsters to do even better. 

Chhetri wrapped up the interview by sharing the significance of his fans and expressing his gratitude to them. 

He said, “I just hope that I can inspire young players to give their best and keep going. It's probably evident that if you keep working hard and try to do the right things, you can achieve a lot. I’m not very special in a holistic manner. A lot of boys are very talented here, so if you keep working hard, you can have a long career.”

“And for the ones who have supported me, have encouraged me, I want to convey my immense gratitude. You may think that how a boy sitting in Uttar Pradesh or Andaman could make a difference for me, but every bit of support I receive counts. And the common thing between us all is that we all want to see Indian Football do well,” he signed off.