Sunil Chhetri, India’s football legend, discusses his career and predicts that it will end soon

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Ketan Barot
Ketan Barot
I'm Ketan Barot working as an intern for Frontier India. I have a keen interest for journalism. When not at work, I try my hands at making memes, watch football (GGMU) and listen to Travis Scott. *Views are personal.

Sunil Chhetri, who has led Indian football for the past decade, announced on Thursday that his career will ‘end soon.’ The 37-year-old, who this week broke Pele’s record for most international goals, also stated that he is “not going anywhere for the next few years.”

Sunil Chhetri has become almost synonymous with Indian football in recent years. The Secunderabad-born player made his senior team debut in 2005 and has been a mainstay for the Blue Tigers ever since.

Chhetri is currently leading India in the SAFF Championships, where the Blue Tigers have advanced to the final against Nepal.

Chhetri said after scoring his 79th international goal, two more than Pele, against the Maldives on Wednesday that “it’s a fact that it (his career) is going to end soon” and to enjoy every moment of it.

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“I now have a very simple mantra. Dost khade ho ja, apna time bhacha hey, apna game bache huwe hey, chup chaap ja aur apna best de. Thoda time pe khatam hone wala hey (I tell myself that there is very little time left, that there are only a few games left, that you should go quietly and give your best). It will come to an end at some point).”

In the Indian Super League, Chhetri plays for Bengaluru FC. The team has only ever won the tournament once, in 2018/19.

Sunil Chhetri, who had hinted at possible retirement, has stated that he will not be leaving. This could imply that the Indian captain will accept a coaching position.

“Stop crying, stop rejoicing, stop over-celebrating, and stop putting yourself down because all of these things will soon come to an end. Right now, I’m going to pick myself up, go there, and do my best because I know it’s going to end soon.”

“SC11 is not going away for the foreseeable future. So just unwind, “He stated.

Behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Chhetri is currently the third most prolific international goal-scorer among active players. He made his international debut against Pakistan in Quetta in 2005, under head coach Sukhwinder Singh, and went on to break every record in Indian football.

In his 16-year career, he has played in a record 124 matches for India. Since the retirement of former captain Bhaiching Bhutia in 2011, he has served as Indian football’s poster boy.

“Gali khata, ya log tarif karte hey… I go there and do my best to forget everything I try to forget. Missing, I will miss goals, scoring, I will score goals, but we will discuss all of this after I finish.

“Because I don’t want to look back and regret that I could have done this or that.” “I want to do everything right away.” When asked about his rivalry with Pele, Chhetri stated, “Everyone who knows football knows that there is no comparison whatsoever” (with Pele). I am excited to continue playing and scoring for my country. “That’s all I want,” he declared.

“I’ve only seen a few clips of the great man (Pele), but from what I’ve seen, he was a dynamic and powerful footballer.” Football was different back then; the game was brutal at times.

“Despite this, he scored so many goals, which speaks volumes about his outstanding achievement.”


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