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Captain Chhetri to hang boots after World Cup qualifier next month

Source: PTI
Last updated on: May 16, 2024 11:29 IST
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IMAGE: Sunil Chhetri to play his last game against Kuwait. Photograph: Kind courtesy AIFF Media

The iconic Sunil Chhetri on Thursday announced his decision to retire from international football after the FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Kuwait on June 6, bringing the curtains down on a glorious career that is unparalleled in Indian football for its longevity and consistency.


The long-serving national team captain announced his decision via a video he posted on his social media accounts.

Chhetri, who made his debut in 2005, has scored 94 goals for the country. He will leave the scene as India's all-time top scorer and most-capped player.

He is also third in the list of goal scorers among active players behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and currently sits as the fourth in the all-time list of international goal-scorers as well.

Chhetri, 39, will walk into international sunset after rendering yeoman service for nearly two decades, 19 years to be precise, to a team that was heavily reliant on the 5'7" forward to deliver the goods every time he wore the blue jersey.

"The match Against Kuwait is the last," Chhetri said while announcing his decision.

Chhetri's final match will be played at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, and it is appropriate that he will end his journey in a city, where he has played a lot of his football while evolving into a potent striker.

India are currently second in Group A with four points, behind leaders Qatar.

Chhetri had made his 150th national appearance in March and scored on the occasion against Afghanistan in Guwahati. India, though, stunningly lost that game 1-2.

In recent times, Chhetri said he could sense that he was heading towards the end of his glorious journey.

"You know the feeling that I recollect in the last 19 years is a very nice combination between duty, pressure and immense joy. I never thought individually, these are the many games that I've played for the country, this is what I've 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. I did it because probably I was going towards the decision that this game, this next game is going to be my last."

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