The football romantic in India yearned for this day. For years now, India had neglected football to a large extent. It was fun watching it on the television with European stars fighting it out, playing the beautiful game. But when 11 Indian men stepped onto the field to knock around the same ball, it didn’t quite carry the same appeal as those magical European nights.
And why would it?
People demand entertainment and they were getting a lot of it from these European footballers kicking the ball around.
Their thirst for football was being satiated and hence Indian football was bring ignored.
But then something beautiful happened. The Indian captain took to social media to educate people about ‘why’ they should support Indian football. No, he did not ask people to stop supporting their respective European teams, all he did was ‘plead’ that they give Indian football a chance as well.
He acknowledged the difference in the level of quality, and thus fed the Indian audience with a new perspective.
He wanted all the football fans to bring about a footballing revolution in India starting today. He wanted them to come out of their comfort zones and experience the quality, urge the players on and scream at them if ever the quality dropped.
He wanted India to breathe football. And the big man succeeded.
The Indian captain walked out to a sold out crowd at the Mumbai Football Arena, playing his 100th game for the country in what seemed like one of the most mesmerizing nights in Indian football.
After a scrappy first half, where the pitch was massively affected by rain, the game came alive in the second when Chhetri won a penalty and slotted it home, much to the delight of the Indian fans.
Jeje then got onto the scoresheet with a sublime left foot volley before Chhetri dished out a beautiful, an absolutely beautiful chip to get his 2nd on this magical night.
Indian football had evolved it seemed, and not because the players dug out a win, it had evolved because the fans had turned up.
Hopefully this night paves way for the football revolution that we all deserve.
Check out the tweets:
— Prakash Singh Dhami (@PSDhami66) June 4, 2018
— Bhaichung Bhutia (@bhaichung15) June 4, 2018
Genuine question: Would it be too much of an exaggeration to say that the video posted by Sunil Chhetri has done more for Indian football than anything else in recent memory? #INDvKEN
— Vinayakk (@vinayakkm) June 4, 2018
Sunil chettri has now scored two more goals than David Silva-the highest goal scorer for Spain.
— BrokenStats (@Broken_Statz) June 4, 2018
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) June 4, 2018
India’s football results last 2 years…
2 June 2016: beat Laos 1-0
7 June 2016: beat Laos 6-1
4 Sept 2016: beat Puerto Rico 4-1
22 Mar 2017: beat Cambodia 3-2
1 Jun 2018: beat Chinese Taipei 5-0#IndvKen#IntercontinentalCup
— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) June 4, 2018
Thanks to Mumbai rains and Sunil Chhetri, lot of people now know that Football is not impacted by Duckworth Lewis. #INDvKEN
— Rahul Roushan (@rahulroushan) June 4, 2018
The heavy rain in Mumbai seems to be troubling the Kenyan team.
The Indian team is not bothered by the rains. Coz, they have Chhetri ☔ #INDvKEN
— Shridhar V (@iimcomic) June 4, 2018
And Chhetri finishes things off in style!
— Nikhil 🏏 (@CricCrazyNIKS) June 4, 2018
I’m ashamed and proud at the same time to be telling that I know the names of all the Indian players playing today.
Let this rain be the rain of change in Indian football.
Thank you Captain Chhetri you are one of the greatest reason we have been following this game.#Chhetri100
— Vishwanath Savai (@SavaiVishwanath) June 4, 2018
If there’s anyone who puts India on the map of football, wherever we are, it’s our captain Sunil Chhetri.
We’re lucky to be witnessing such a legend playing for the Blue Tigers. One Captain. pic.twitter.com/OjIjmAteV4
— Hardik (@hardikreds17) June 4, 2018