Chhetri invites fans for his farewell match

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | May 17, 2024 IST

Sunil Chhetri

New Delhi, May 17: Extremely skilful, team-man to the core, astute leader, big match player, committed, low profile, crisis manager, soccer  legend with magic-legs and so on. That is how soccer fans round the globe know Indian football captain and a player in a generation Sunil Chhetri.

But the outgoing Chhetri himself urged home fans to come in numbers and enjoy his final international game against Kuwait in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on June 6.

On Thursday, Chhetri announced his retirement from international football in a video posted on his social media accounts.

When asked about his expectations from the passionate home crowd in Kolkata, Chhetri said don't be nervous and enjoy the game while remaining hopeful of the 'happy' ending.

"Just come and encourage us as what you're doing. A lot of grounds in our country have done amazingly, even when we talk about the national team but Salt Lake is at the top, it is unbelievable. It is derived a lot by fans who are supporters of Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Mohammedan SC or local clubs but strangely no matter how these clubs are doing in that year, they come in numbers for the national team and they're outstanding.

"So just don't be nervous, I know it's a big game. Let's enjoy it as much as we can. come in numbers and enjoy. hopefully, we can all go happy after the game," Chhetri told IANS in a virtual interaction organised by AIFF on Friday.

The 39-year-old stalwart of Indian football will retire from the sport as the highest-capped player and the country's top goal-scorer. The experienced striker has played 150 matches and scored 94 goals for the Blue Tigers.

When asked about his feelings on the final encounter in India jersey, the captain said, "For now, we are just thinking about Kuwait. Thankfully, at the camp, me announcing it (retirement), everything is done and dusted. We are quite calm, all of us and just thinking about Kuwait."

The legendary forward remains 'optimistic' of Indian football's growth in the coming years.

"Very bright, I'm really optimistic. A lot of fight for different positions. If you talk about no. 9, it is a challenging position. There are a lot of candidates doing well. Unfortunately, they do not get enough games in at the position in ISL. In due time, I hope that changes. A lot of attacking players are doing really well whether you take the two finalists - Liston Colaco and Manvir Singh, Vikram Pratap and Lallianzuala Chhangte, Anirudh Thapa or Sahal Abdul Samad playing no 10. All these attacking players have done really well.

"I do understand no. 9 is a very specific one but I'm pretty sure, we will get it with the talent we have. We, as a country, need to be very patient. At the start, a lot of will chip in before we finally get the one," Chhetri responded on the prospect of his replacement.

Talking about the decision to hang his international boots, Chhetri said he came to the conclusion due to the 'mental aspect'.

"The retirement decision was not because of physical aspect, I am still fit, running, chasing, defending, the hard work is not difficult, the reason is to do with mental aspect," Chhetri said.

"I was fighting with myself, trying to think holistically, it came instinctively. One year I will be in Bengaluru FC, I don't know how long I will be playing (domestic football), after that I want to take a sabbatical," he added.

If Chhetri can fashion an Indian win at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata then that would be an excellent farewell match for the Indian soccer legend. Football loving Kolkata crowd would perhaps be praying for a winning end to a glorious career, (With IANS support) 

    Tags
  • All India Football Federation (AIFF)
  • FIFA World Cup qualifier
  • Sunil Chhetri

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