Kohli feels 'proud' of Chhetri's decision to hang his boots; AIFF, BCCI hail skipper's stellar career

New Delhi, May 16 India star batter Virat Kohli feels 'proud' of the country's football captain Sunil Chhetri's decision to retire from the international career after the FIFA World Cup 2026 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 match against Kuwait in Kolkata on June 6.

On Thursday, Chhetri took to social media, announcing his decision to bid adieu to the Indian football team following a stunning career of representing Blue Tigers for 19 years.

Commenting on the striker's Instagram post, Kohli wrote, "My brother (with a heart emoji). Proud."

The 39-year-old striker is one of the most decorated footballers that the country has ever produced. He has also been an inspirational figure for the budding athletes in the country. In 145 matches for India, he netted 94 goals, the most for the country. Ex-India captain Bhaichung Bhutia is second on the list with 42 goals to his name.

Among the active football players across the globe, the Indian captain is the third-highest goal-scorer, only behind two mega stars - Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (128 goals) and Argentina's Lionel Messi (106 goals).

The official X handle of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the governing body of the sport in the country, also wished Chhetri for his sparkling tenure with the side.

"Your legacy on and off-the-field will always be remembered! You have always been and will continue to inspire us. Thank you @chetrisunil11 for your leadership, dedication and commitment to Indian football. Captain. Leader. Legend," the AIFF posted on X.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) termed Chhetri's career as 'extraordinary' for the nation.

"Your career has been nothing short of extraordinary and you have been a phenomenal icon for Indian football and Indian sports. Go well, Captain!," BCCI wrote on X.

Chhetri's Indian Super League (ISL) franchise Bengaluru FC and Kohli's Indian Premier League (IPL) side Royal Challengers Bengaluru shared wishes for the ace forward.

"The phases, the faces, the eras and battles - he’s been the one constant through it all. He’s going to do it one last time, and we can never be grateful enough for the giant that walked amongst men," Bengaluru FC wrote on X.

"India Football captain Sunil Chhetri to retire on June 6. What a ride this has been, skipper! 94 international goals, so many laurels, an unbroken conviction and you’ve inspired so many young Indians to dream big. Happy farewell to the No.11 but India’s #1, Sunil Chhetri," RCB posted on X.

Source: IANS
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