They say âdonât chase love, itâll find you when the time is rightâ and many couples around the world will testify how this simple adage unexpectedly filled their lives with unexpected joy one fine day. Thatâs how it is supposed to be you see. It floors you, knocks the wind out of your lungs and sends your heart into a frenzy because of that one person who suddenly means the world to you.
For one of Indiaâs most celebrated footballers and captain of the Indian football team Sunil Chhetri, love came visiting just like that - unannounced and completely unpredictable! Bas phir kya tha, when cupidâs arrow strikes even the mighty are bound to fall.
Sunilâs first interaction with his future girlfriend and eventually his wife was truly unexpected. Talking to Humans of Bombay, Sunil recalls what the fateful day had been like when an 18-year-old Chhetri spoke to 15-year-old Sonam for the first time.
âHer father was my coach, and he used to always specially mention this guy called âChhetriâ to her. I was 18, and she was only 15. She was really curious about me so she stole my number for her dadâs phone and texted me saying, âHi! Iâm Sonam and Iâm a big fan, I want to meet you!â.â
Sounds simple enough, right? The good olâ days of romancing over sweet text messages. But soon these innocent text messages gave way to more.
âI had absolutely no idea who she was. She was really sweet and kind on text so I decided to give in and met her â when we met I realised that she was just a kid! I told her, âYouâre a kid, go studyâ and walked off. But for some reason, we didnât stop casually texting each other.â
But with the sweet scent of affection, came the dramatic twist that every hit love-story has to survive. For Sunil and Sonam, that climax was to come in the following months.
âThat went on for two months, and then one day my coachâs phone stopped working â so he gave it to me to fix. While I was fixing it, the coachâs daughter called and her number looked familiar to me. Thatâs when I realised that it was Sonamâs number! I was so livid! I immediately called her up told her that if the coach would find out that I was chatting with his daughter, he would end my career! I vowed to cut all ties from her. She apologised for not telling the truth, but I wouldnât have any of it.â
But we all know how love is, distance only makes the heart grow fonder and sure enough, Sunil had to surrender when love came calling.
âA couple of months passed by, and I just couldnât get her out of my mind. I really enjoyed having her around. So I texted her and we started talking again. Soon, we started to meet. We had to be really careful and couldn't let anybody know. I used to travel a lot so weâd only meet twice or thrice a year. I remember I used to go to the cinema, buy two tickets â and leave one on her name at the counter. Iâd enter first and sheâd enter 10 minutes after me.â
Their love and respect for one another only grew from there on, and there was no looking back.
âYears went by and our bond only grew stronger. As I excelled in my career, she was there to always cheer me up, calm my fears and be my backbone. It was almost as if we grew up together and fell in love in the process.â
Then came the day to take things to the next phase and hereâs what happened.
âWhen we were both old enough, and wanted to get married. I knew it was time to talk to her dad. I was filled with jitters when I walked into her house. When we sat down, her dad started talking about everything under the sun. Until I finally mustered the courage and told him, âSir, I love your daughter and I believe she loves me tooâ. He just said, âYa, ya itâs okayâ and went to the bathroom. Finally when he came out, he gave his nod of approval! And in a few months, we got married.â
Thatâs how Sunil Chhetri ended up scoring the greatest goal of his life by marrying his âbiggest fanâ.
âWe dated for 13 years, and have been married for 2 years now. Sonam has literally been there through every monumental moment in my life. When I was a nobody and had no money, she was there. When I had my first win and even my first loss, she was there. When I made captain, she was there. I just canât imagine my past without her, and definitely not my future. âTill date she calls herself my âbiggest fanâ, but I hope she knows that Iâm always and so much more, in awe of her.â
Whatta wow, eh?