Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri was named an 'Asian Icon' by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on his 34th birthday and received praise for challenging the world's greatest players of his generation in scoring goals. Chhetri is currently the highest goalscorer active Asian player with 64 strikes from 101 matches and third in the world after superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The AFC made his birthday a memorable one by presenting, on its official page, a throwback of his life and career and the best moments on the field, when he played for India and his clubs, beginning from 2005 in a match against Pakistan. "In the era of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, to be the third highest scoring international footballer in the world is no mean feat, and for an Asian player to be within one goal of Messi's 65 goals for a national team is a record our latest inductee to the 'Asian Icons' list should be proud of," the AFC wrote. "As he turns 34 on Saturday, we celebrate the career of Sunil Chhetri, India's most capped player and all-time top goal scorer."
Describing Chhetri as one of Asia's greatest footballers, the AFC said, "In a cricket-mad nation, Chhetri was raised in a footballing family, where his father represented the Indian Army team while his mother and aunt were international footballers for Nepal." "Chhetri caught the football fever, but never imagined how far he would go. Little did the India captain know he would go on to surpass a century of caps and score 21 more international goals since 2015 to rival the world's greatest players of the generation and lead his nation to a fourth AFC Asian Cup in their history with four goals in the qualifiers," the AFC said.