‘From Quetta Debut to Football Folklore’: Legendary Sunil Chhetri’s Glorious Career in Indian Blue

Indian Football Team skipper and legendary striker Sunil Chhetri announced on Thursday that he will draw the curtains on his illustrious career after the conclusion of the FIFA World Cup 2026 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 match against Kuwait in Kolkata on June 6.

The announcement left the nation stunned with adulation pouring in for the captain from all corners of the sprawling nation.

Chhetri has been a constant in the Blue Tigers outfit ever since his debut against heated rivals Pakistan back in the year 2006 as he made his first appearance in blue at Quetta.

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The striker has proven to be a beam of shining light in the annals of the country’s football folklore despite the various challenges the national side faced throughout his long tenure.

Chhetri has made a landmark 150 appearances for the Blue Tigers and stands third in the list of active international goalscorers with a prolific haul of 94 goals. He has led the national side 87 times and remains one of the biggest proponents of the sport in the nation.

The 39-year-old has enjoyed a trophy-laden career claiming the SAFF Cup four times, the Jawaharlal Nehru Cup thrice, both the Intercontinental Cup and Tri-Nation Cups twice each, and an AFC Challenge Cup title.

His individual accomplishments shed further light on the incredible quality he possessed as he became the first Indian to reach the 50-goal mark. The striker has also managed to net four hattricks for the nation, including the treble he scored in the final of the AFC Challenge Cup in the year 2008.

He has also found the back of the net in three of the four SAFF Cup finals, while also coming up big on landmark occasions having netted in all of his first, 25th, 50th, 75th, 100th, 125th and 150th caps for the Blue Tigers.

His exploits on the field also earned him multiple accolades as he claimed the AIFF Player of the Year server times in his career, while also receiving the Football Players Association of India (FPAI) Player of the Year award twice.

He was also conferred with the Arjuna Award in 2011, before being honoured with the Padma Shri in the year 2019. The Khel Ratna award, which Chhetri received in the year 2021, added a coat of sheen to his glowing portfolio that also includes multiple Most Valuable Players awards across tournaments and the Asian Icon status bestowed upon him by the Asian Football Confederation in the year 2018.

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