‘These 19 years would not have been possible without you,’ says teary-eyed Chhetri

09:47 AM Jun 07, 2024 | PTI |

Kolkata: Thanking everyone for being part of his glorious 19-year journey in international football, Sunil Chhetri was in tears as his teammates gave the Indian football icon a guard of honour while the packed Salt Lake Stadium rose for a standing ovation.


The 39-year-old talisman walked into international retirement after India were held to a goal-less draw by Kuwait in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers match here on Thursday.

“The ones who have watched in videos, the ones who have taken autographs, the ones.. the old-time supporters, thank you everyone. These 19 years would not have been possible without each and everyone of you and I genuinely mean it,” Chhetri said on an emotional night.

“For everyone who is here, thank you so much. I think I will speak from my heart,” he added before breaking into bengali, “shobai bhalo thakben, shobai khushi thakben (everyone please take care, please be happy), and thank you, thank you so much.”

He was also felicitated by the All India Football Federation after the match.


Chhetri, who thanked the huge turnout with folded hands, retired as the highest goal scorer for India (94) after playing the most matches (151) for the team.

He is also the fourth highest goal-scorer in international football.

The forward last month announced his retirement from international football.

Among his may achievements, Chhetri played a pivotal role in India’s victories at the Nehru Cup in 2007, 2009, and 2012, showcasing his remarkable skills and contribution to the team’s success.

Apart from this, he also helped India win the 2011, 2015, 2021 and 2023 SAFF Championships.

Chhetri led India to victory in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup with a hat-trick in the final, which helped India qualify for its first AFC Asian Cup in 27 years.



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