Sunil Chhetri: A Stellar Journey from Debut to Retirement

Sunil Chhetri

New Delhi: In an emotional announcement that marks the end of an era in Indian football, Sunil Chhetri, the nation’s most celebrated footballer, has declared his retirement from international play. The revered Indian captain is set to hang up his boots following the FIFA World Cup qualification match against Kuwait, scheduled for the 6th of June.

Chhetri’s illustrious career spans 150 matches donning the national jersey, during which he netted an impressive 94 goals. This remarkable feat places him among the top-5 goal scorers in the history of international football, a list headlined by Cristiano Ronaldo with 128 goals. Following Ronaldo are Iran’s Ali Daei with 108 goals and Lionel Messi with 106. Chhetri’s goal-scoring prowess surpasses that of both Ronaldo and Messi, boasting an average of 0.63 goals per match, compared to Ronaldo’s 0.62 and Messi’s 0.59.

The announcement came through a heartfelt post on Chhetri’s social media on Thursday, where he reminisced about his debut. “There’s a day I can never forget—the day I first represented my country. It was surreal,” Chhetri shared. He recalled the moment his first national team coach, affectionately known as Sukhi sir, posed the question that would launch his storied career: “Are you going to start your career today?” The memory of preparing for that game, complete with the unusual act of spritzing his jersey with perfume, remains vivid in his mind.

Sunil Chhetri

The news of Chhetri’s retirement brought mixed emotions within his family. While his father received the decision with a sense of pride and contentment, it was a tearful moment for his mother and wife, who were overcome with emotion upon hearing the news.

Chhetri’s departure from the international stage is not just the conclusion of his journey but also a pivotal moment for Indian football. As he steps away from the field, his legacy of dedication, skill, and sportsmanship will continue to inspire future generations of footballers in India and beyond.