At 33 years old, there’s still a train of thought that Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the world. His achievements speak for themselves and even though his Champions League goals have dried up, he’s still a huge hit in Turin with Juventus.
He’s bagged 15 times in 24 matches up to the beginning of the winter break but only once in the Champions League when he gave former employers Manchester United a reminder of exactly what they’re missing.
Despite his lack of goals, he can still be found at 15/1 on Betfair to be the leading scorer in the competition and a couple of strikes against Atletico Madrid in the knockout stages would have him quickly back on track.
Along with Lionel Messi, Ronaldo is the most recognisable footballer on the planet. The pair of them have vied for the Ballon D’Or every year and have captivated a generation. It may, therefore, surprise many to know that a third player currently active in world football separates them in terms of goals scored throughout his career.
Few will have heard of Indian striker Sunil Chhetri, a 34-year old currently winding down his career with Bengaluru Football Club. The player they nicknamed ‘Captain Fantastic’ has never made his mark on the Western world, instead, achieving most of his incredible feats while playing in his homeland for a succession of clubs few outside of India have heard of.
East Bengal, Chirag United and Dempo have all seen the best of him, whilst ill-fated moves to Kansas City Wizards and Sporting CP never resulted in success. Whilst he struggled to break through on the bigger stage, his record in India speaks for itself.
Cristiano Ronaldo has hit 85 goals for Portugal, with Lionel Messi behind him on 65 for Argentina. As Chhetri bagged a brace against Thailand in a recent Asian Cup tie, he took his own tally to 67, the second best in the world.
Chhetri is a big star in India but, as a country, they struggle to embrace the beautiful game. They were only once set to be involved in a World Cup, turning down a chance to compete in 1950. Since then, they’ve never qualified, nor threatened to do so.
Not only that, they’ve had no success in the Asian Cup, the equivalent of our own European Championships. They’re a minnow of world football but with a remarkable man leading the line.
His two goals might have moved him ahead of a world great but they could be even more important than any he’s scored before. The win was the first India have registered in the competition in their history and is the latest step towards becoming more of a force on the world stage.
He might not be a household name outside of his homeland but the statistics don’t lie and, in terms of international goals, only the great Ronaldo is better than a player with just three appearances for Sporting CP’s B team outside of his home country.