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AIFF to nominate Sunil Chhetri for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award

The name of Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri will be nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the country’s highest sporting honor. The All India Football Federation has made preparations to recommend his name. However, the documents related to it have not been handed over yet, news agency ANI quoted this information.

Sunil Chhetri had made a special record in his name this month. He became the second highest goalscorer in the list of active players, leaving behind Argentine striker Lionel Messi. He scored 2 goals against Bangladesh in the combined qualifiers of FIFA World Cup 2022 and Asian Cup 2023 and single-handedly led the team to victory and took his international goal count to 74.

However, two days ago in the Copa America Cup match against Bolivia, Argentine forward Messi had overtaken Chhetri, scoring two goals against Bolivia. Messi now has 75 goals and ranks third after Ali Mabkhout from UAE in the list of top international goalscorers. Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo holds the record for most international goals. He equaled the record of 109 goals held by Ali Daei of Iran. 

Chhetri also received the Padma Shri award in 2019. He is the sixth footballer to receive this honor. The 36-year-old is the second Indian after Bhaichung Bhutia to play 100 international matches. Recently, Sunil Chhetri extended his contract with Indian Super League club Bengaluru FC for two-year deal. He confirmed to play for the Indian club until 2023 saying “Bangalore is my home now and the people of this club are like family to me”. He has scored 101 goals since joining the club in 2013.  

For the first time in 2020, five players were given the Khel Ratna. It included Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma, table tennis player Manika Batra, Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat, hockey player Rani Rampal, and para-athlete Mariyappan Thangavelu.

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