Sunil Chhetri’s debut match: Which players did he debut with and where are they now?

Sunil Chhetri. (Credit: Indian Football/X)
Sunil Chhetri trains hard ahead of his final match in blue colors. (Image Credits: X/Indian Football)

India’s most decorated footballer Sunil Chhetri will hang up his boots after the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers encounter against Kuwait on Thursday, June 6. Known for his goal-scoring prowess, Sunil Chhetri has scored 252 goals so far for club and country.

Sunil Chhetri has created a plethora of records during his long international career after making his debut against Pakistan in a friendly match in 2005. After not being a part of the initial XI in his debut game against Pakistan, he came in as a substitute in the 65th minute and scored the goal to steal the limelight right away.

Notably, Sunil Chhetri has won the AIFF Player of the Year for a record seven times and bagged a total of four international hat-tricks, the most by any Indian.

Sunil Chhetri has scored 94 goals in 151 international matches just behind Cristiano Ronaldo (128), Ali Daei (108), and Lionel Messi (106) among the most international goal-scorers in football history.

That said, let’s take a look at which players Sunil Chhetri made his debut with and where they are now.

Satish Kumar (Goalkeeper)

Satish Kumar, who hails from Tamil Nadu, played for India as a goalkeeper. After quitting playing competitive football in 2015, Satish was approached by Chennai City FC and was appointed the coach, winning the I-League both as a player and a coach.

Later in 2021, Satish was appointed the goalkeeping coach by FC Bengaluru United's first team to bolster their defense in the I-League Qualifiers.

Mahesh Gawli (Defender)

Mahesh Gawli (Image Credits: AIFF)
Mahesh Gawli (Image Credits: AIFF)

Centreback Mahesh Gawli represented India from 1999 to 2011 on 68 occasions. He won the LG Cup and several SAFF Cups for the Indian national team. Furthermore, he was part of the Nehru Cup win in 2007, securing the Player of the Match title in the final against Syria.

Having retired from internationals in 2011, he was part of several teams as a coach. In 2023, he was appointed as the coach of the India U23 football team and is currently serving as an assistant coach of the Indian senior men's team.

Felipe Gomes (Defender)

Defender Felipe Gomes was part of two international friendlies with the Indian team in 2005. He was part of the Sporting Clube de Goa on 129 instances. Reportedly, Gomes is based out of the UK with his family.

Habibur Rahman Mondal (Defender)

Right-back and center-back Habibur Rahman Mondal played for the Indian senior men’s team on seven occasions. He last represented the Indian national team in 2006 and was part of competitive football till 2012 for Mohun Bagan and Southern Samity.

Due to medical issues, he had to shorten his playing career. Since his retirement, he has been coaching junior players at a local coaching club since 2017.

Surkurmar Singh (Defender)

Right back Irungbam Surkumar Singh represented the Indian national team on 52 instances, scoring two goals from 2001 to 2011 over a decade. He attended a course in grassroots coaching after his playing days.

After his retirement from the competitive sport in 2014, the Imphal-born defender has been training U12 kids at the Khurkhul Model Standard English High School.

Climax Lawrence (Midfielder)

Midfielder Climax Lawrence represented Team India on 72 occasions, scoring three goals from 2003 to 2011. He bid adieu to the international sport in 2012.

Following his retirement, Lawrence was part of the Mumbai FC team and then took up coaching. After being an assistant coach of FC Bardez, he last coached Velsao SC.

Clifford Miranda (Winger)

Clifford Miranda (Image Credits: AIFF)
Clifford Miranda (Image Credits: AIFF)

Winger Clifford Miranda bid adieu to competitive football in 2007 and since then, he has taken up coaching as a career. He assisted coach Derrick Pereira in the ISL team FC Goa and later coached the club’s B side.

Later, he was promoted as an assistant coach of FC Goa’s first team that plays in the ISL. He represented India on 45 instances, scoring six goals for nine years.

Shanmugam Venkatesh (Attacking Midfielder)

Shanmugam Venkatesh (Image Credits: AIFF)
Shanmugam Venkatesh (Image Credits: AIFF)

Attacking midfielder Shanmugam Venkatesh represented Team India for nine years from 1997 to 2006. After his retirement from the sport, he was appointed as the Indian national team’s assistant coach in 2015. He was the captain of the team when Sunil Chhetri made his international debut.

Since the 2019-20 I-League season, he was appointed in charge of the Indian Arrows, AIFF's developmental squad. He was last seen as the assistant manager of the East Bengal club.

Abhishek Yadav (Striker)

Abhishek Yadav (Image Credits:
Abhishek Yadav (Image Credits:

Sunil Chhetri’s attacking partner in his debut against Pakistan, Abhishek Yadav, was part of the Indian national team on 36 instances, scoring four goals in his nine-year international career.

In 2021, Abhishek was appointed as the first deputy general secretary of the All India Football Federation (AIFF). Later in 2022, he resigned from his post.

Syed Rahim Nabi (Winger)

Winger Syed Rahim Nabi was part of the senior Indian men's team on 61 instances, scoring seven goals from 2004 to 2013. After he retired from international football, he contested elections with Trinamool Congress in 2016.

In 2019, he competed in the Calcutta Football League (CFL) for Peerless SC. Later, he was seen as an analyst in a few TV shows.

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