Childhood & Early Life
Chencho Gyeltshen was born in Shaba Gewog, Paro District, Bhutan, on May 10, 1996, into a lower middle class family. Though Bhutan’s FIFA ranking may not be that higt, but there is a certain football culture, so it was natural for Chencho to take up football.
Chencho started playing football during his primary school days, mostly for fun. He along with his older brother played for longer hours, but Chencho was more interested in martial arts. Football as a sport didn’t appeal to him, until he watched Cristiano Ronaldo playing in the ‘English Premier League.’ Chencho became an ardent fan of the Portuguese footballer and tried focusing more on his football skills.
He attended Kelki International School and was aware of the club scene in Bhutan. Despite the poor infrastructure, he raised above all the limitations and honed his skills and his hard-work eventually paid off.
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His older brother had seen him playing and he knew right away that Chencho had the potential to become a star. On his brother’s encouragement, Chencho joined the local club ‘Yeedzin’ at the age of 12 in 2008. Five years down, he became one of the star players in the team and played a major role in getting ‘Yeezdin F.C.’ win ‘Bhutan National League Championship.’
The 2013 King’s Cup was another success story for him and his team, as he led his team to the finals. In the final match against ‘Manang Marshyangdi’ of Nepal, he scored two goals, but couldn’t ensure victory.
After his stunning performances, bigger and better things awaited him. In 2014, he joined the ‘Thimpu League’ team ‘Druk United.’ He captained the team in the King’s Cup 2014 and his double goal against the Indian club ‘Mohun Bagan’ brought him more fame and exposure.
His contract with ‘Thimpu FC’ officially made him the best Bhutanese footballer to come out in years as he was the leading scorer in the ‘Thimpu League’ with 10 goals in 17 matches. His association with ‘Surin City F.C.’ increased his fame further.
Many South Asian football clubs started approaching him, but Chencho decided to focus on his studies. In 2015, he became a part of ‘Thai Premier League’ with ‘Buriram United.’ His stint in Thailand was extremely successful and he finally got the attention of biggest football league in all Southern Asia, the ‘Indian I-League.’
Indian clubs, ‘Delhi Dynamos’ and ‘Pune City’ showed interest in signing him, but nothing solid came out of it. Chencho later said that he would have been happy to join ‘Indian Super League’ as it would provide him with a chance to play with many international football stars. Meanwhile, his success streak continued with ‘Buriram’ in Thailand and he won ‘Coke Cup’ Under-19 championship for his team in 2015.
In July 2015, his trial period with ‘Buriram’ ended and he was signed by Thai club ‘Surin City.’ Alexandre Gama, the manager of the team was keen on signing Chencho and presented the contract to him himself. This way, Chencho became the first ever Bhutanese footballer to play for an international club. Although it was later revealed that he was actually signed by ‘Buriram United’ and only loaned to ‘Surin City.’
By September 2015, he emerged as the lead scorer in the league championship for ‘Surin City’ and scored 8 goals in the first 8 matches that he played in. Despite a scintillating performance, his team narrowly missed to qualify for the play-offs.
In March 2016, Chencho left ‘Buriram’ and joining hands with ‘Satun United’ on a two year contract, but some internal issues forced him to leave ‘Satun United’ right after the first season. He went back and joined ‘Thimpu F.C.’ and by the end of the ‘Bhutan National League,’ he emerged as the top goal scorer with 15 goals in the 10 league matches that he played in.
After his one season stint with the ‘Bhutan National League’ team ‘F.C. Tertons,’ he joined ‘Chittagong Abahani,’ a ‘Bangladesh Premier League’ team. He received an offer from another ‘Bangladesh Premier League’ side ‘Uttar Baridhara F.C.’ Due to a low pay offer, Chencho decided to go with Chittagong. For a three months initial contract, he was paid $4,000 a month, becoming the highest paid athlete in Bhutan.
Before his three months contract was terminated and Chencho returned to Bhutan, he scored 5 goals in the 7 league matches that he played in. In early 2017, he joined ‘Thimpu City’ for 2017 ‘AFC Cup’ qualifying play-off. ‘Thimpu City’ topped the group stage and officially became the first Bhutanese team to go this deep in the tournament.
The 2017 ‘Thimpu League’ season ended with a super successful scoring streak for Chencho as he ended the league with 22 goals in 14 matches. ‘Thimpu City’ further emerged as the winner of the league and ended at the second spot in the tally for 2017 ‘Bhutanese League.’
‘Minerva Punjab F.C.’ approached Chencho in mid-2017 and the official announcement was made in August that year. In late October, he made his debut for his new team against ‘Rail Coach Factory FC’ and just a few days later, he scored a hat-trick against ‘Bengaluru FC.’ Overtime, he has become one of the key players in ‘Minerva Punjab F.C.’ side and enjoying a massive popularity in India.
Chencho has played for his national Bhutanese side in almost all the teams, from U12 to U19. In March 2012, he scored against Nepal in his senior debut and in March 2015, during the World Cup Qualifiers, Bhutan scored its first victory in the tournament against Sri Lanka. His team reached the second round in the qualifications, which became a historical moment in the Bhutanese football history.
Chencho Gyeltshen is a hardcore Ronaldo fan but was largely unaware that his playing style resembles that of the Portuguese great. He never misses any game that Ronaldo plays in. He also follows other football greats such as Lionel Messi and Neymar.