'A role model...like MS Dhoni': IM Vijayan, Jay Shah hail Sunil Chhetri

New Delhi, May 16 The loss of Sunil Chhetri is not one that can be described in words. Following the announcement of his impending retirement, the sports fraternity has come alive to pay their tributes to one of the best to ever grace the pitch.

Chhetri, who is known for his calm, composure and maturity both on and off the pitch, features that another former Indian captain is well known for. Former India football captain IM Vijayan has compared the 39-year-old with ‘Captain Cool’ MS Dhoni.

“I consider Chhetri a great player, a terrific motivator, and an ideal captain. He is like MS Dhoni, who has excelled both as a player and a captain. The kind of discipline Chhetri maintained throughout his career has made him a role model.

“I tell youngsters like Sahal Abdul Samad and Ashique Kuruniyan to follow Chhetri’s lifestyle if they wish to prolong their careers. It will take some time before we get another footballer like Sunil Chhetri in India,” Vijayan was quoted as saying by AIFF.

BCCI secretary Jay Shah, too, lavished praise on Chhetri, stating, “@chetrisunil11, one of India's most decorated footballers, has announced his retirement from international football. Your dedication and passion have been an inspiration to millions. As a pioneer of Indian football, you've not only achieved remarkable success but also elevated the sport in our country. Wishing you all the best in your future endeavors!”

Chhetri will don the Blue Tigers jersey one final time as he walks out on the pitch at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata against Kuwait in a must win FIFA WC Joint Qualifier on June 6. The match is of great significance as the venue is the most iconic football ground in the country and holds a lot of history having seen the best of Indian footballing moments.

Meanwhile, AIFF acting general secretary M Satyanarayan, said, “It would be an understatement to say that Sunil Chhetri’s retirement will be a big loss for Indian Football. We have seen the dedication with which he has played for both club and country.

“Even at the age of 39, he is one of the fittest players on the pitch. Right now, the only thing that we can do is look back on his glorious career and celebrate it. We certainly hope that he will do the job for the nation one last time on June 6, but whatever the result may be, he will certainly go down as one of the legends of Indian Football. I would like to sincerely thank him for his massive contribution to Indian Football,” he added.

Source: IANS
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