New Delhi: Sunil Chhetri has become the latest Indian footballer to be conferred with the prestigious Padma Shri Award by the Indian government. It was announced on 25th February that Sunil Chhetri along with Gautam Gambhir, Sharath Kamal and 5 other sports personalities were awarded the title of Padma Shri this year.
Sunil Chhetri joins an elite list of Indian football players to have received the award. The list includes yester-years players like Goshto Pal, Sailen Manna, Chuni Goswami (all Mohun Bagan), PK Banerjee as well as the 21st century stars like Baichung Bhutia. Padma Shri is the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India after the Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan. It is awarded every year on the Republic Day by the Government of India.
Here is what Sunil Chhetri said when he was informed about the award:
“Today, I find yet another reason to be grateful. I wouldn't have been honoured with the Padma Shri Award if it hadn't been for the teammates, coaches, staff, massuers, physios and management that I have had the pleasure of working with across all these years.
This one is also because of mom, dad,Sonam,Bandu, Lamba, Kunaal and all my friends and family who have stood by me through thick and thin, always pushing me on.
And finally to all the fans who have supported, encouraged, criticised me with the hope that I rise and been with me through this journey - thank you all.
I'll end with a promise of being hungrier every single time I step on the pitch for country and club. And trying to be a better human being every single day.”
The Indian footballing fraternity came together to congratulate Sunil Chhetri on his big achievement and the Indian captain was hoping that this award will not be the single biggest achievement of his career, when asked if this was the biggest achievement of his career:
"I hope not, I hope there are bigger ones to come! But yes, this is definitely one of them.”