Sunil Chhetri retires: Virat Kohli drops brotherly reaction, PV Sindhu, Neeraj Chopra pay heartfelt tribute | Football News - Hindustan Times

Sunil Chhetri retires: Virat Kohli drops brotherly reaction, PV Sindhu, Neeraj Chopra pay heartfelt tribute

May 16, 2024 03:45 PM IST

Virat Kohli, PV Sindhu and Neeraj Chopra joined the bandwagon to hail Sunil Chhetri, who announced his retirement from international football.

Indian football legend Sunil Chhetri announced his retirement from international football at the age of 39. The Indian footballer, in a video on his X handle, announced that his last international match would be against Kuwait at the FIFA World Cup qualifier.

Sunil Chhetri acknowledges fans after winning the SAFF 2023 final.(PTI)
Sunil Chhetri acknowledges fans after winning the SAFF 2023 final.(PTI)

Chhetri was the third-highest active goal scorer alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The Indian expressed gratitude to every person who had been a part of his illustrious career.

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"The recollection of the last 19 years is a combination of duty, pressure and immense joy. I never thought that these are the many games I would play for the country, good or bad but now I did but these last one and half two months I did. And this (the feeling) was very strange. I was probably going towards the decision that this game (against Kuwait) is going to be my last," the Indian footballer said.

"There is one day that I will never forget and remember it quite often is the first time I played for my country man, it was unbelievable. But the day before, morning of the day, Sukhi sir, my first national team coach, in the morning he came to me and he’s like, you’re going to start? I can’t tell you how I was feeling, man. I took my jersey, I sprayed some perfume on it, I have no idea why. So that day, everything that happened, once he told me, from breakfast to lunch and to the game and to my first goal in my debut, to conceding late 80th minute, that day is probably that I will never forget and is one of the best days of my national team journey," he added.

Meanwhile, the social media was flooded with tributes from various sporting luminaries for the Indian footballer. Legendary Indian cricketer Virat Kohli posted an emotional comment on Sunil Chhetri's post where he wrote, “My brother. Proud.”

Olympic medallists Neeraj Chopra and PV Sindhu also paid tribute to the legendary footballer.

“Wishing you the happiest of retirements captain,” Sindhu, the double Olympic medallist commented.

“Captain. You are an inspiration, and your impact on Indian sport can never be erased,” wrote the reigning Olympic champion, Neeraj Chopra.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) took to X as it commended the Chhetri’s contribution to the sporting firmament.

“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,” the apex body wrote.

The Indian Football Team on its official X handle also lauded the Indian legend’s achievements and his valiant efforts in uplifting the sport.

“Your legacy on and off the field will always be remembered! You have always been and will continue to inspire us. Thank you @chetrisunil11 for your leadership, dedication and commitment to Indian football. Captain. Leader. Legend.”

Meanwhile, Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu expressed disbelief as he wrote a heartfelt note for the Indian football captain 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,” Sandhu wrote.

Being the third-highest active goal scorer and fourth overall in the world, Chhetri has scored 94 goals in 150 international matches. His goal count at club and country level are nothing less than phenomenal. Averaging almost a goal in every two outings, Chhetri has scored 252 goals in 515 appearances.

Known for his leadership, Chhetri received the Arjuna Award in 2011 for his achievements in football. Meanwhile, he also got the Padma Shri in 2019, which is India's fourth-highest civilian award. In 2021, he bagged the Khel Ratna Award, which is India's highest sporting honor, and he also became the first footballer to achieve such a feat.

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