Chhetri bids an emotional goodbye

Published - June 06, 2024 10:36 pm IST - KOLKATA

Sunil Chhetri with wife Sonam Bhattacharya and other family members being felicitated after he retired from international football following a FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier match against Kuwait, at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (Salt Lake Stadium), in Kolkata, Thursday, June 6, 2024.

Sunil Chhetri with wife Sonam Bhattacharya and other family members being felicitated after he retired from international football following a FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier match against Kuwait, at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (Salt Lake Stadium), in Kolkata, Thursday, June 6, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

Thanks Captain, Leader, Legend was the message unfurled on the stands right behind one of the goals at the Salt Lake Stadium here as thousands of fans wildly cheered the most successful footballer of the country, Sunil Chhetri.

The moment was quite poignant for the multitudes who had gathered to see Chhetri turn out in the national colours for the last time in his glittering international career. Owning an unparalleled record of playing 151 matches and scoring 94 goals, thousands had gathered to see Chhetri finish his last match.

Multiple giant tifos hailed Chhetri, who became the epitome of footballing excellence in these parts in the last two decades, though the match did not go the way the huge gathering of partisan supporters had wished for.

Despite achieving much more than any other footballer in the country, Chhetri was inconsolable at the end of the match. Emotions rans high in the stands, where his family — including his parents and wife — could not hold back their tears as one of the biggest footballers India has ever produced walked into his sunset.

Chhetri was accorded a grand send-off in a nice function jointly organised by the Government of West Bengal, All India Football Federation and Indian Football Association after the match.

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