Bengaluru FC and Indian national football team captain Sunil Chhetri has scored the most goals for India. The 37-year-old veteran has 80 goals in 125 appearances to his name.
Chhetri, one of India’s most celebrated sports personalities, made his international debut in June 2005 against Pakistan and thanks to his only goal, the team managed to salvage a 1-1 draw.
Two years on from his debut game against the arch-rivals, Chhetri appeared in his first-ever international tournament in the 2007 Nehru Cup. In the opening match against Cambodia, the star forward scored twice in a 6-0 win. He registered four goals in the tournament as India went on to their first Nehru Cup title.
During this 16-year stint with the Indian national football team, Chhetri has scored three hat-tricks, most by any Indian, while getting braces on as many as fifteen occasions. Furthermore, among all the teams he has played against, the likes of Maldives and Nepal have been his favourite victims, having scored eight goals against them each.
As far as international competitions are concerned, the SAFF Championship has been the most productive tournament for the forward as he scored 18 goals in 22 matches.
Chhetri’s tally of 80 international goals is significantly higher than second-placed I.M Vijayan, who has netted 29 goals for India. The legendary striker is followed by Bhaichung Bhutia, who has 26 international goals to his name.
From making his debut in 1995 to his retirement in 2011, Bhutia earned 80 international caps, winning the SAFF Championship on three occasions and the Nehru Cup twice.
Shabbir Ali, a former Mohammedan Sporting Club player and manager, shares the fourth spot with Jeje Lalpekhlua with 23 goals each. Sunil Chhetri, I.M Vijayan, Bhaichung Bhutia, Shabbir Ali and Jeje Lalpekhlua are the only players who scored goals in double figures for the Indian team.
Most goals for India
Featured photo: AFP / Khaled Desouki