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Twitter reacts as Indian Football Team captain Sunil Chhetri is conferred Padma Shri

SENIOR ANALYST
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Sunil Chhetri will become the sixth footballer to be awarded the Padma Shri
Sunil Chhetri will become the sixth footballer to be awarded the Padma Shri

The Government of India will confer the prestigious Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, upon India's Sunil Chhetri for his distinguished service in the field of football on January 26. The Home Ministry announced the same via a press release.

This isn't the first time an Indian footballer has been awarded the revered Padma awards. The 34-year-old Bengaluru FC player joins the elite list of footballers Gostha Pal, Sailen Manna, Chuni Goswami, P.K. Banerjee, and Bhaichung Bhutia who have been conferred with the Padma Shri award. Other legends of the game like Subrata Pal, IM Vijayan, Bruno Coutinho, Prasun Banerjee, and Peter Thangaraj have been conferred with the Arjuna award in the past.

Sunil Chhetri was ranked above 2010 FIFA World Cup winner Andres Iniesta in the 'Best Footballer in Asia 2018 list' and overtook Lionel Messi while scoring against Thailand in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in the international goalscorers' list. He is currently the second highest active international goalscorer, only behind Portugal and Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo.

While representing India, Chhetri has won the Nehru Cup in 2007, 2009, and 2012, the AFC Challenge Cup in 2012, and the SAFF Championships in 2011 and 2016. Asian Football Confederation- the highest governing body of football in Asia- recognized him as an Asian football icon on August 3, 2018 for his stupendous achievements.

In club football, the former Kansas City FC player has won 2 Hero I-League titles, 2 Federation Cups, and a Hero Super Cup. He even led Bengaluru FC in the final of the 2016 AFC Cup, where the JSW owned club lost to Iraq's Air Force Club 1-0. Twitteratis couldn't have been any prouder and showered their praise on Sunil Chhetri with their congratulatory tweets.

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Bachendri Pal is the only sportsperson who will be bestowed the Padma Vibhushan award this year. Gautam Gambhir, Ajay Thakur, Prashanti Singh, Bajrang Punia, Bombayla Devi Laishram, Sharath Kamal, and Harika Dronavalli are the other sportspersons the government of India will honor for their achievements in cricket, kabaddi, basketball, wrestling, archery, table tennis, and chess respectively.

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