Sunil Chhetri announces retirement after FIFA world cup qualifier

Sunil Chhetri will leave the scene as India's all-time top scorer and most-capped player, scoring 94 goals for the country

Clinton D’Souza | MAY 16, 2024, 11:50 AM IST
Sunil Chhetri announces retirement after FIFA world cup qualifier

 Panaji: Indian football legend Sunil Chhetri declared his decision to retire from international football following the FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Kuwait on June 6. This announcement marks the culmination of a stellar two-decade-long career for the revered striker.

Chhetri, the long-standing captain of the Indian football team, revealed his retirement plans via a heartfelt video shared on his social media platforms. Reflecting on his illustrious journey, he expressed gratitude for the blend of duty, pressure, and immense joy he experienced over the past 19 years.

Recalling the pivotal moments of his career, Chhetri reminisced about the anticipation and nerves he felt before his debut match for the national team. He vividly described the surreal experience of donning the Indian jersey for the first time and the rush of emotions that accompanied his debut goal.

Chhetri candidly shared the internal struggle he faced upon deciding to retire, acknowledging the conflicting emotions between the instinct to continue playing and the rational realization that the time had come to bid farewell to international football.

Expressing his love and gratitude for the unwavering support of fans throughout his career, Chhetri emphasized the significance of their encouragement in shaping his journey as a footballer. He also expressed optimism about the future of Indian football, urging the next generation of players to step up and carry forward the legacy.

He said "When the instinct came that it should be my last game, then I thought about it a lot. And, eventually, I came to this decision, Every training that I do with the national team, I just go in joy. I can feel that. I don't feel the pressure. I don't think I know any player who has got more love, affection, adulation from the fans in a holistic manner in my country than me”, he added.

Chhetri's retirement announcement comes on the heels of his landmark 150th appearance for the Indian national team, where he showcased his scoring prowess with a goal against Afghanistan. With an impressive tally of 94 goals, Chhetri leaves a lasting legacy as India's all-time leading goal scorer and most-capped player. Chhetri said "I never thought individually that these are the many games that I play for the country. This would have done good or bad. But now I did it. This last one and a half, two months, I did it. And it was very strange."

Throughout his distinguished career, Chhetri has been a beacon of inspiration for aspiring footballers in India. His commitment to the sport and exemplary leadership on and off the field have earned him widespread admiration and accolades.

As Chhetri prepares to bid adieu to international football, his departure marks the end of an era for Indian football. His leadership and contributions have played a pivotal role in raising the profile of Indian football on the global stage and inspiring a generation of young football enthusiasts across the country.

While Chhetri's retirement signifies the end of a remarkable chapter in Indian football, it also heralds a new beginning. As the torchbearer of Indian football passes on to the next generation, Chhetri's legacy will continue to resonate as a source of inspiration and pride for football fans across the nation.

With India currently vying for qualification in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Chhetri's impending retirement adds a poignant dimension to the upcoming match against Kuwait. As the Indian team strives for victory on the pitch, fans and football enthusiasts alike will come together to celebrate the illustrious career of a true icon of Indian football.

Chhetri said  "One last game against Kuwait. For all our sakes, let's do let's do a good game. Let's win the game, and we can depart happily."

As Chhetri prepares to hang up his boots at the conclusion of the match against Kuwait, football aficionados will fondly remember his contributions to the sport and the indelible mark he has left on Indian football history.

In his parting message, Chhetri expressed his gratitude to the core group of individuals who supported him throughout his journey and thanked fans for their unwavering love and encouragement. As he embarks on the next chapter of his life, Chhetri's legacy will continue to inspire generations of footballers and fans, leaving an enduring imprint on Indian football for years to come. India is currently second in Group A with four points, behind leaders Qatar.

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