The first soccer player to be awarded with Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, Indian Maestro Sunil Chhetri On Saturday, his long life at the highest level was credited as the reason for the country’s highest sporting honor. The 37-year-old Indian captain, who began his professional career at the renowned Mohun Bagan Club in 2002 and made his international debut in 2005, received the Khel Ratna from President Ram Nath Kovind. “One of the primary reasons why I received the Khel Ratna Award is because I have been playing for 19 years. I want to thank each and every one of the masseurs, physiologists and doctors. Your superstars were the main reason why I was on the pitch,” said Chhetri. said.
“There were so many times I thought I could not, but you guys made it possible for me,” he said in a statement issued by the All India Football Federation.
He also thanked all the clubs he played for, his teammates – both at the clubs and the national team, the fans and his family.
“All these years you have suffered with me, rejoiced with me, you have been with me at every up and down, you have dreamed with me – and I very much like to share this award with each of you.”
Chhetri, probably India’s greatest footballer after the ‘Golden Age’ of the last century, played the most international matches and scored the most goals.
With 80 strikes from 125 international matches, he is currently linked with Argentine superstar Lionel Messi on the number of goals among active players.
He is one of the few Indian footballers to have won the Padma Shri and was also awarded with the Arjuna award. AIFF President Praful Patel congratulated Chhetri on the consultation with Khel Ratna.
“Congratulations! No one deserves it more than Sunil. He was the flag bearer and role model for Indian football, having won so many honors for his country and all his clubs over the years.
“I wish him all the best in his future endeavors, and look forward to leading us to unprecedented glory in the near future.” Kushal Das, General Secretary of the AIFF, said:
“My heartfelt congratulations to him. Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award is the pinnacle of all sports awards in the country and Sunil deserves the award.
“He is a living legend, and the icon that all fans look up to. I wish him all the best for his professional and personal life. You were a true flag bearer for Indian football.” I expect this award to be a motivation to all other Indian footballers, and inspire them to reach higher levels in their careers. “
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