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Sunil Chhetri draws curtains on international career

Indian football legend Sunil Chhetri will don the blue jersey for the final time for India against Kuwait on 6 June, as he announces his retirement from international football.

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In what came as a shock to the world of football, Indian national team captain, Sunil Chettri, announced that he will hang up the boots on his international career after India’s FIFA World Cup qualification match against Kuwait, scheduled for June 6.

Renowned around the world as one of the nation’s most prominent athletes, Chhetri is currently ranked as third in the list of most international goals, behind Lionel Messi and a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. With a record of 94 goals in 150 international matches, Sunil Chhetri’s career with India has spanned over 19 years, with the striker making his debut in 2005 against Pakistan, in which he also scored his first goal.

In a long statement released on his social media pages on Thursday 16 May, Chhetri reminisced on his illustrious career that was full of ups and downs and shared the heart-warming story of how he was told that he would be earning his first international appearance.

Since the announcement was made, Chhetri has received an overwhelming amount of warmth from athletes and fans around the world, with the likes of Virat Kohli, Neeraj Chopra and Ranveer Singh pledging their support for India’s record goal scorer.

 

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A post shared by Sunil Chhetri (@chetri_sunil11)

Former Indian captain, Bhaichung Bhutia, reacted to the news by noting the professionalism and dedication that made the 39-year-old stand out from other players, with his willingness to learn and innovate his game impressing Bhutia early on. Taking over as captain of the national side from Bhutia in 2012, Chhetri’s cool and calm nature as captain was compared to that of legendary cricket captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, by former star player, IM Vijayan.

Although Chhetri’s dream of playing in Europe’s top leagues was crushed after being denied a work permit by the British government following his proposed move to English side, Queens Park Rangers, his presence in the Indian Super League is one that helped the league grow across the country. Despite his retirement from the national team, Chhetri will continue to represent his club side, Bengaluru FC, in the ISL, and will hope to help pick up their form after a disappointing season.

An inspiration to many, Sunil Chhetri has been the pioneer of Indian football for decades, both in India, and across the world. In what will be the final time that the football icon dons the Blue Tigers jersey against Kuwait on the 6th of June at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, the mark that he has left on Indian football will not be forgotten, as he looks to put the ball in the back of the net for India one last time.

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Renesh Krishnan
Renesh Krishnan
Football Enthusiast

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