The current Indian football team captain is Sunil Chhetri, popularly known as the captain, leader, and legend for his unparalleled contribution to Indian football. The forward is the highest scorer in the Indian football team’s history for his country and sits sixth in the list of footballers with the most international goals.
The talismanic striker is a successor to some of the best footballers that India has ever produced over the last century, who have not only represented the country at the highest level but has also won prestigious trophies. Below is the full list of every Indian football team captain.
Indian football team captain: Complete list
|Talimeren Ao||1948 Olympics|
|Sailen Manna||1951 Asian Games|
|PK Banerjee||1960 Olympics|
|Chuni Goswami||1962 Asian Games|
|Inder Singh||1969, 1973|
|Syed Nayeemuddin||1970 Asian Games|
|Gurdev Singh Gill||1970-79|
|VP Sathyan||1991, 1995 SAFF Championship|
|Bhaichung Bhutia||1998, 2005 Championship|
Unlike today’s Indian football team, which has gone down the FIFA rankings owing to their underwhelming international outings, the previous era saw the national side competing for the best in the business and even winning accolades at the highest level.
Here are the few notable Indian football team captains who have made India proud.
Widely believed to be the best defender that Indian football has ever produced, Sailen Manna was the captain of the India team that won the good medal at the 1951 Asian Games. He was such a talent that the English FA had included him amongst the ten best captains in the world back in 1953.
One of the most famous names from the golden generation of Indian football, PK Banerjee, was the Indian football team captain during the 1960 Olympics. He has a whopping 65 goals to his name for India in just 84 games.
Yet another title-winning captain of Indian football, Chuni Goswami, was one of the most decorated players of his time. He captained India between 1956-1964 and led India to the gold medal in the 1962 Asian Games and the silver medal at the 1964 Asia Cup.
Hyderabad’s Syed Nayeemuddin was the captain of the India football team during the 1970 Asian Games, where India won the bronze medal. He is also the only player to have won both the Arjuna Award and the Dronacharya Awards for football. He had coached the Indian national football team twice.
The Indian national team captain is currently levelled with Argentina legend Lionel Messi in terms of international goals scored and trails the great Cristiano Ronaldo by 35 goals. The Indian team has taken giant strides under the captaincy of Sunil Chhetri, with the Indian football fans believing in the striker’s abilities.
Sunil Chhetri: Indian football team captain who brought back the glory years
Sunil Chettri first found himself in the iconic blue national team colour for the first time on March 30, 2004, when he played for the India U-20 team against Pakistan in the South Asian Games. He first made a mark for the Indian national team on April 3, 2004, by scoring a brace for the U-20 side against Bhutan that India won 4-1.
His quality didn’t go unnoticed, and he was soon inculcated in the senior Indian national football team on June 12, 2005. While Chhetri kept regularly contributing by playing beside Bhaichung Bhutia, it was in the 2007 Nehru Cup that he showed his scoring prowess. He scored four goals against Cambodia, Syria and Kyrgyzstan to take India to the final of the Nehru Cup and played a crucial role in the build-up to the winning goal as India beat Syria 1-0 to lift the trophy.
Though India didn’t do well in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Sunil Chhetri was on point in almost every game. The 2008 SAFF Championship saw the striker scoring twice as India ended their campaign in the final against Maldives. Sunil Chhetri scored four goals in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup, helping win another trophy, seeing India automatically qualify for the prestigious 2011 Asian Cup. The Indian football team had made it to the tournament for the first time in 24 years.
Sunil Chhetri was sidelined for long with an injury for the first time in his football career, although that didn’t stop him from playing in the 2009 Nehru Cup. India’s 2011 Asian Cup campaign wasn’t a success, but Sunil Chhetri did manage to score goals against tough oppositions like Bahrain and South Korea despite India bowing out early.
Though there was never any doubt about Sunil Chhetri’s talent, he cemented his status by making a record in the 2011 SAFF Championship by scoring seven goals and surpassing I. M. Vijayan’s previous record of seven goals.
Sunil Chhetri became the captain of the Indian football team for the first time during the 2021 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers and led them to the finals by finishing as Group B winners. Though India didn’t finish that tournament well, the skipper looked comfortable with the new label. He repaid the faith of the Indian football federation during the 2012 Nehru Cup, where he scored four times to lead India to the title.
While most forwards depreciate with age in the physically demanding sport of football, Sunil Chhetri has aged like a fine wine. The best example of that was his performance in the 2018 Intercontinental Cup, where he had scored eight goals to lead India to the title. Chhetri’s most recent contribution was against Nepal in the 2021 SAFF Championship final, where he had a goal to his name yet again.
Sunil Chhetri: Goals by International competitions
|World Cup qualification||38||18||0|
|AFC Challenge Cup||26||14||0|
|Asian Cup qualification||16||8||0|
|AFC Asian Cup||12||8||0|
Since making his debut for the national team in 2005, Chhetri has scored every calendar year at the international level, barring 2006.
Sunil Chhetri: International Goals by Years
Playing for the Indian Super League side Bengaluru FC, Sunil Chhetri has excelled with 93 goals and 14 assists to his name in 206 games. He is also one of the few players who have played for the Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.
Who is the Indian football team captain in 2020?
The Indian football team captain in 2020 was Sunil Chhetri after he had scored seven goals in 11 appearances for the national side in 2019. However, due to the pandemic, India didn’t get much playing time in 2020.
Who is the Indian women’s football team captain?
The captain of the Indian women’s football team is Loitongbam Ashalata Devi. The defender from Imphal currently plays for Women’s League side Sethu FC.