Sunil Chhetri “The Irreplaceable Indian Footballer” Announces Retirement - Unified Sports

Sunil Chhetri “The Irreplaceable Indian Footballer” Announces Retirement

Why did Sunil Chhetri retire at the peak of his career at 39? Can we officially consider Sunil Chhetri as the best footballer to play for India? Could Indian football have achieved more under his captaincy if he continued playing? 

These questions echo in the hearts of millions of football fans across India as they come to terms with the retirement of their beloved captain. Sunil Chhetri’s decision to hang up his boots has stirred emotions, from admiration for his illustrious career to curiosity about his next steps.

As you know on Thursday, 16 May, Sunil Chhetri, the face of Indian football, announced his retirement after a remarkable career spanning over 19 years. The Indian skipper revealed that his final international appearance for India will be during the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers match against Kuwait on 6 June in Kolkata.

Over the last six months, Chhetri was in remarkable form. His agility, speed, and ability to beat defenders were as sharp as ever. He was scoring goals, making assists, and leading his team with the same passion that has always defined his career. His fitness, disciplined lifestyle, and unwavering dedication to the sport allowed him to maintain a high level of performance. It was evident that physically, he was more than capable of continuing for a few more years. 

Here are the Sunil Chhetri’s goals and assists in his past few matches:

DateCompetitionGoals Assists
28 March 2024Domestic League11
05 April 2024Domestic League20
10 April 2024International Friendly01
18 April 2024Domestic League12
25 April 2024Domestic Cup10
01 May 2024Domestic League21

Then Why did he decide to retire?

In his announcement, Chhetri clarified that his retirement was not due to physical constraints but rather a mental decision. “The retirement decision was not because of the physical aspect, I am still fit, running, chasing, defending; the hard work is not difficult. The reason is to do with the mental aspect,” he stated.

This statement shows that for athletes, especially those at the top of their game, the mental demands can be as taxing, if not more so, than the physical ones. The pressure to consistently perform, the expectations of fans, the constant travel, and the need to stay at the peak of one’s abilities can take a significant toll on an athlete’s mental health.

By choosing to retire while still at the top of his game, he has ensured that he steps away on his terms, preserving not only his physical health but also his mental well-being.

He said “The recollection of the last 19 years is a combination of duty, pressure, and immense joy. I never thought that these were 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” 

If you want to see the full video of Sunil Chhetri click on this link

Early Life And Family:

Born on August 3, 1984, in Secunderabad, into a Kshatriya family, Sunil Chhetri’s father, K.B. Chhetri, was an officer in the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers of the Indian Army and played football for the Indian Army football team. His mother, Sushila Chhetri, and her twin sister played for the Nepal women’s national team. Chhetri spent much of his childhood in Darjeeling, where he attended Bethany School and grew up in Pashupati Fatak. From a young age, he was actively involved in football, participating in various tournaments.


First Indian to become top 10 international goalscorers

Sunil Chhetri’s feats in international football started early. He scored on his debut for the senior national team against Pakistan. Years later, in 2019, he became the first Indian among the top 10 highest international goalscorers.  

SAFF Championships awards

Sunil Chhetri has dominated the SAFF Championships over the years, winning plenty of individual awards. He won the SAFF Championships Player of the Tournament award four times and was the top scorer on three instances.

First Indian to play in three different continents

Sunil Chhetri also holds an impressive record for becoming the first Indian player to ply his trade on three continents. The attacker has played in Asia for several Indian clubs, in North America for Kansas City Wizards, and in Europe for Sporting Lisbon CP.

AIFF Player of the Year awards

Sunil Chhetri holds the record for winning the AIFF Player of the Year most number of times. Over the years, he has been awarded the POTY trophy on seven different occasions. His most recent win was in 2021–22.

Goals for the Indian national team

Sunil Chhetri’s goalscoring feats for the Indian national team are mind blowing, to say the least. He has scored 94 goals in 150 matches for the Blue Tigers, by far the highest ever for an Indian footballer.

Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna awardee

Sunil Chhetri’s accomplishments for the national team received the highest recognition when he was awarded the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award in 2021. By receiving the highest sporting honor in India, Chhetri became the first football player to win it.


We deeply admire Sunil Chhetri’s choice to retire from his career. His preferences to his understanding and self-awareness, recognizing the importance of mental well-being in a worrying profession. Chhetri has performed with unwavering enthusiasm and passion, representing India on the football field with great dedication and skill. His contributions to Indian football were memorable, inspiring countless fans and aspiring athletes.

While we will miss seeing him score and assist on the field, we are happy for him as he embarks on this new journey. Chhetri’s legacy will be preserved to inspire new generations, and his decision to prioritize his mental fitness sets a powerful example for all athletes. We celebrate his decision to retire and stay up to see how he will continue to impact the sports in a new and meaningful way.

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