India's ‘Captain Fantastic’ announces retirement: Sunil Chhetri's 5 feats that make football fans proud

Do you know Chhetri is only behind Messi and CR7 when it comes to international goals

Sunil Chhetri Indian football legend Sunil Chhetri | AFP

Sunil Chhetri, a legend who has been the heart and soul of Indian football for nearly two decades, has announced his retirement from the international stage. The 39-year-old national team captain, India's leading goal-scorer of all time with 94 goals, will play his last match on June 6th in the FIFA World Cup qualification match against Kuwait. Sunil Chhetri made his debut for the Indian Football team in 2005, scoring a goal against Pakistan. Notably, Chhetri's impressive tally ranks him third to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi among the best active footballers. 

“The moment I told myself first, that this is the game that's going to be my last, I started recollecting everything. I started thinking about this match, that match, this coach, that coach, that member, that ground. The good games, bad games, all my performances, and it was so strange.” said Chhetri in his post. 

Sunil Chhetri, his voice thick with emotion, announced his retirement from International football through a video message. "The kid inside me, if given a chance, never wants to stop playing for his country," Chhetri said, "he will probably fight in the future, but the mature me knows this is it."

He continued, a hint of a smile breaking through, "I just want to enjoy all the training sessions with the national team now. In a very strange and nice way, I am not feeling pressure even though I know the importance of this game. Because I know, this 20 days of training with my team and the game is my last, so I am just going to enjoy it and give it all I have."

Top Five Iconic Moments in Chhetri’s Career:


Honoured with the Khel Ratna Award in 2021

India's 'Captain Fantastic' was honoured with the Khel Ratna in 2021. In recognition of his consistent contributions to Indian football from 2017 to 2021, which included leading the team to victories in many games. Chhetri remains the only football player to be honoured with the prestigious award from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports since it started in 1991.

Third-highest goal-scorer at international level

Sunil Chhetri, boasting 94 goals, currently ranks as the third-highest active goal scorer in International football, having surpassed Lionel Messi in 2019. Only Cristiano Ronaldo stands ahead of him.

Highest-capped Indian football player

Throughout his impressive career spanning over two decades, the centre-forward has accumulated a multitude of individual awards and led India to numerous victories. In 2019, Chhetri etched his name in history by surpassing Bhaichung Bhutia's record of appearances for the Indian national team. He achieved this feat during India's Kings Cup clash against Curacao. Chhetri has since continued to feature heavily for India, solidifying his lead at the top of the list of most-capped Indian players with over 150 appearances.

FIFA documentary 

Chhetri was honoured by FIFA with a three-part documentary titled ‘Captain Fantastic’ released before the 2022 World Cup, despite never having played in the tournament itself. The documentary highlights Chhetri’s career, paying tribute to his remarkable journey and his achievements that earned him the title ‘Captain Fantastic.’

Top Indian goal scorer in the Indian Super League

The legendary football captain, Sunil Chhetri, is not only the top Indian goalscorer in the ISL but also ranks among the league's top 5 players overall. He has racked up an impressive 61 goals and 11 assists in 155 appearances for both Mumbai City FC and Bengaluru FC. Notably, Chhetri led Bengaluru FC to their first-ever ISL title win, further solidifying his legacy in the league.

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