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India national football team captain Sunil Chhetri has announced his retirement from international football.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest Indian footballers of all time, Sunil Chhetri brought the curtains down on his legendary two-decade career with the Indian football team.

The 39-year-old made the announcement in an emotional video he posted on his social media accounts on Thursday, May 16.

“The feel that I recollect in the last 19 years is a very nice combination of duty, pressure and immense joy,” Chhetri said while announcing his retirement.

“I never thought individually these are the games I've played for the country, this is what I've done good, I've done bad. But, now I did it, this last one-and-a-half two months. It felt very strange. I did it because I was going towards the decision that the next game was going to be my last,” the Indian captain added.

Know more about Sunil Chhetri retirement date, opponent and venue

Sunil Chhetri retirement date

Sunil Chhetri has decided to retire from international football after the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifying match against Kuwait at the iconic Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Thursday, June 6.

Under head coach Igor Stimac, the Indian football team is currently placed second in the FIFA World Cup 2026 Second Round Group A standings with four points from as many games.

Earlier, India started their FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win over Kuwait courtesy Manvir Singh’s match-winning strike in November 2023.

The Blue Tigers, however, later went down to Qatar 0-3 in their next qualifying match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

In March, India were held to a goalless draw by Afghanistan before losing 1-2 to the same opponents at home in the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers.

India will play Kuwait (June 6) and Qatar (June 11) in their final two qualifying games.

The top two teams from the group will qualify for the third qualifying round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 to be held in three North American countries: Canada, Mexico, and the United States. They will also earn a direct entry in the AFC Asian Cup 2027 to be held in Saudi Arabia.

Sunil Chhetri International Goals

Sunil Chhetri is the all-time top goalscorer of the Indian national football team. He has netted 94 goals in 150 appearances for India since his international debut in 2005.

Known lovingly as ‘captain, leader, legend’ by fans, Chhetri is currently the third-highest active goalscorer in international football after Cristiano Ronaldo (128) and Lionel Messi (106).

Apart from being India football team’s all-time leading goal-scorer, Sunil Chhetri is also the most-capped player for India. He has made 150 official appearances for India at international level.

Chhetri’s first international tournament was the 2007 Nehru Cup held in New Delhi. Till date, he has netted nine goals in 14 appearances in Nehru Cup history.

Apart from the Nehru Cup, Chhetri has represented India in SAFF Championships, FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, AFC Asian Cup qualifiers, Intercontinental Cups, AFC Asian Cup and King’s Cup.

Chhetri has been a prolific goal-scorer for India, having scored four hat-tricks in international football. He recorded hat-tricks against Tajikistan in 2008, Vietnam in 2010, Chinese Taipei in 2018, and Pakistan in 2023.

As far as a favourite opponent is concerned, Chhetri has scored his most international goals against Nepal and Maldives. While he has netted nine goals in 13 appearances versus Nepal, he has scored the same number of goals in just six games against Maldives.

Apart from his international exploits, Chhetri has also scored more than 150 goals at club level.

He has also won several prestigious awards, including the Khel Ratna, India's highest sporting honour, the Arjuna Award - the country's second-highest sporting award, and the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian award.

With his unmatched legacy and incredible career achievements, Sunil Chhetri will go down as one of the greatest footballers to have ever graced the beautiful game.

Photo credit: Alamy

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