Indian captain Sunil Chhetri breaks Pele's record: Key stats
A terrific brace from Sunil Chhetri helped India beat Maldives 3-1 in their final league match of the 2021 SAFF Championship. The Indian captain overtook Brazilian legend Pele in terms of international goals by extending his tally to 79. Chhetri now has the joint-sixth-most goals in international football. His incredible effort powered India to the final of the championship. Here are the key stats.
Chhetri now shares the sixth spot with Godfrey Chitalu (79) on the list of top goal-scorers in international football. They are only behind Cristiano Ronaldo (115), Ali Daei (109), Mokhtar Dahari (89), Ferenc Puskas (84), and Lionel Messi (80) on the tally. The Indian captain, who is the third-highest goal-scorer among active players, requires two to surpass Messi.
Chhetri scored his first international goal in his debut game, against Pakistan (June 2005). He scored four goals in his first international tournament, helping India win their first Nehru Cup title. Notably, Chhetri is the only Indian player to have scored 50 or more goals in international football. He has scored the most times against Maldives (8).
Chhetri's international goals (tournament wise): Friendlies: 28, SAFF Cup: 17, Nehru Cup: 9, FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: 9, AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers: 4, AFC Challenge Cup: 4, AFC Asian Cup: 2, AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers: 3, King's Cup: 1.
Chhetri has scored a total of three international hat-tricks (vs Tajikistan in 2008, vs Vietnam in 2010, and vs Chinese Taipei in 2018), the most by an Indian. The Indian captain has netted 11 times (internationals) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi, his most at a single ground. Besides, 11 of his 79 international goals have come from penalty kicks.