Farewell to a Football Legend: The Retirement Odyssey of Sunil Chhetri

Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri announced on Wednesday that he will retire from international football after the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifier against Kuwait on June 6th.

Indian football icon Sunil Chhetri announced his decision to retire from international football after the FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Kuwait on June 6th in Kolkata. This announcement marks the end of his illustrious two-decade career. The long-serving captain of the national team made his announcement through a video posted on his social media accounts.

Speaking about his decision to retire, the 39-year-old Chhetri said, “The past 19 years have been a perfect blend of duty, pressure, and immense joy for me.”
“I’ve always held the belief that the matches I participated in for my nation were neither commendable nor regrettable choices from a personal standpoint.” But now, I felt very strange doing so, especially in the last two and a half months,” he said. “I did this because I knew the next game would be my last.”
“I want to enjoy whatever time I train with the national team. Competing against Kuwait carries a weight of expectation, and securing three points is imperative for advancing to the subsequent stage. It is crucial for us,” he said.
Chhetri played his 150th match for India in March, scoring a goal against Afghanistan in Guwahati. However, India lost that game 1-2.

Chhetri’s journey began in 2002 from Mohun Bagan. His talent soon took him abroad with stints at Kansas City Wizards (2010) in the United States and Sporting CP reserves (2012) in Portugal. Upon his return to India, he adorned the colors of esteemed clubs such as East Bengal, Dempo, Mumbai City FC, and presently, Bengaluru FC. It was at Bengaluru where Chhetri truly excelled, winning trophies like the I-League (2014, 2016), ISL (2019), and Super Cup (2018). He successfully guided them to the pinnacle of the AFC Cup final in the year 2016.

Debuting in 2005, Chhetri scored 94 goals for the country. He leaves as India’s all-time top scorer and most capped player. He ranks third in the list of active goal scorers, behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

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