36-Year-Old India Captain Sunil Chhetri Moves Back Above Messi In International Scoring Chart

That’s 74 goals in 117 appearances for Chhetri.

Last Thursday, the world’s second-most populated country once again failed to qualify for the World Cup. India had never managed the feat before, and a 1-0 defeat to Qatar confirmed that 2022 wouldn’t mark a maiden voyage for the Blue Tigers.

But there’s one contest that India might yet win, and that’s the personal battle between 36-year-old captain Sunil Chhetri and six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi. 

On Monday, Chhetri recorded a brace against Bangladesh in a dead rubber qualifier. That gives the Bengaluru FC striker 74 international goals in 117 appearances. Messi reached 72 last Thursday with a penalty against Chile in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.

Yes, Messi’s favorite opponents include Brazil (five goals), Uruguay (five goals) and Chile (four goals), whereas Chhetri prefers Chinese Taipei (six goals), the Maldives (six goals) and Nepal (five goals), but it’s all in good fun.

Sunil Chhetri International Goal #73

Sunil Chhetri International Goal #74

The goals move Chhetri above the United Arab Emirates’ Ali Mabkhout and into 11th on the all-time men’s international goalscoring chart. 

If he scores one more, he’ll pull into joint-10th alongside Hungary’s Sándor Kocsis, Japan’s Kunishige Kamamoto and Kuwait’s Bashar Abdullah. From there, it’s onto catching seventh-place Pelé and his international total of 77 for Brazil.

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