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Kohli 'proud of brother' Chhetri

May 16, 2024 17:21 IST

Sunil Chhetri and Virat Kohli at the Let There Be Sport event in Bengaluru, March 31, 2023

IMAGE: Sunil Chhetri and Virat Kohli at the Let There Be Sport event in Bengaluru, March 31, 2023. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo from the Rediff Archives 

India captain Sunil Chhetri, the country's all-time leading scorer, will retire from international football after the World Cup qualifier against Kuwait next month, the 39-year-old said on Thursday.

Chhetri has been the face of Indian soccer for nearly a decade-and-half and his 94 international goals make him the third-highest active international scorer after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.


Chhetri will play his last international in Kolkata, where he kickstarted his professional career at Mohun Bagan more than two decades ago.

India, currently second, finish their Group A campaign against leaders Qatar away on June 11.

From Virat Kohli to another Indian football legend Bhaichung Bhutia, messages celebrating Chhetri came from all quarters.

'Your legacy on and off-the-field will always be remembered," the All India Football Federation (AIFF) said in a post on X.

'Thank you @chetrisunil11 for your leadership, dedication and commitment to Indian football.'

Commenting on Chhetri's video post on Instagram, Kohli wrote for his good friend: 'My brother. Proud.'

 Sunil Chhetri

Photograph: Kind courtesy BFC/Facebook

Chhetri's club Bengaluru FC wrote on their Facebook page:: 'The phases, the faces, the eras and battles -- he’s been the one constant through it all. He’s going to do it one last time, and we can never be grateful enough for the giant that walked amongst men. #SunilChhetri #ForeverChhetri.'

Chhetri, who made his international 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.

Indian football legends Bhaichung Bhutia, left, and I M Vijayan, right, with Sunil Chhetri

IMAGE: Indian football legends Bhaichung Bhutia, left, and I M Vijayan, right, with Sunil Chhetri in May 2020. Photograph: AIFF Media

Legendary India forward Bhutia, who Chhetri succeeded as captain, told PTI that it was a great loss for Indian football.

'Sunil, no doubt, will go down as one of the greatest players India had ever produced. His contribution to Indian football is immense. It's a great loss for Indian football. I am fortunate to have played with him as senior player. When I came in (I M) Vijayan was senior to me, after that Sunil (Chhetri) came. I am fortunate to have served Indian football in between two stalwarts of Indian football," added Bhutia.

Chhetri's Bengaluru FC and India team-mate, goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu wrote on X: 'Never wanted to see this happen, I wish I could do something to change your mind but I also understand why it is happening bhai. The whole country needs to celebrate your international career on the 6th of June the way you deserve. My Captain."

Sunil Chhetri 

Photograph: AIFF/X

IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bengaluru saluted the No. 11 jersey, saying, 'What a ride this has been, skipper! 94 international goals, so many laurels, an unbroken conviction and you've inspired so many young Indians to dream big. Happy farewell to the No.11 (No.9) but India's 1,' wrote RCB on 'X'.

Former India cricketer Yuvrai Singh wrote in an Instagram story: 'A real legend of the game who took Indian football onto the global stage. Your passion has inspired a generation to take up the game... your legacy in Indian sports will be remembered can look back with pride as you get set for your final game, thank you legend.'

Cricketer Yuzvendra Chahal, member of the India squad for the T20 World Cup, wrote on X: 'What a run you have had! Congratulations on an amazing career," wrote Chahal on 'X'.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) issued a poignant tribute on X: 'Your career has been nothing short of extraordinary and you have been a phenomenal icon for Indian football and Indian sports. Go well, Captain! #TeamIndia,'.