Talismanic Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri has become the fourth highest international goal scorer among active players worldwide with his 54th strike for the country against Kyrgyzstan.
The magnificent goal he scored against Kyrgyzstan in India’s 1-0 win in the 2019 Asian Cup Qualifiers match in Bengaluru on June 13 has taken him past England striker Wayne Rooney (53 goals in 119 matches). Chhetri was playing in his 94th match.
Chhetri, who turns 33 on August 3, is currently behind Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (73 in 139 matches), Argentine maestro Lionel Messi (58 in 118 matches) and American Clint Dempsey (56 in 134 matches).
Chhetri’s strike rate is better than Ronaldo, Messi, Dempsey, and Rooney. He has a goal per match ratio of 0.57 as against 0.525 of Ronaldo, 0.49 of Messi, 0.42 of Dempsey and 0.45 of Rooney.
Only Brazilian superstar Neymar Junior (0.68), Ali Ashfaq (0.68) of Maldives and Edin Dzeko (0.63) of Bosnia have a better strike rate then Chhetri.
Remarkably, Chhetri is also in the top-30 of the all-time goal scorers’ chart (taking into account both retired and active players) and is certain to be among the top-20 when he decides to call it a day.
He would need to score just half a dozen more to reach 60 goals and that should put him in the top-20. Chhetri is expected to continue for at least a couple of years and he has expressed his desire to play in the 2019 Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates if India qualify for this flagship continental tournament.
Chhetri is also just six short of playing in 100 matches for the country and if he does that he will join former Indian football’s poster boy Bhaichung Bhutia who retired in 2011 after donning Indian jersey 109 times.
Chhetri had surpassed Bhutia’s record of most number of international goals 43 in 2013.