Indian football great Sunil Chhetri bid adieu to the game following a 0-0 draw against Kuwait in the FIFA World Cup Qualifier clash at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on June 6.

Sunil Chhetri
Sunil Chhetri (Photo: X@IndianFootball)

Despite the outcome, Chhetri retires as one of the greatest-ever players to have donned the Indian jersey. His illustrious 19-year career ends with 151 caps and 94 international goals. He signs off as the third-highest active goal-scorer after Cristiano Ronaldo (128) and Lionel Messi (106).

The Indian forward remains the fourth-highest all-time top scorer in men’s international football after Ronaldo, Ali Daei (109), and Messi. Chhetri also retires as the second-highest goal-scorer from Asia, underlining his legendary status.

Over 58,000 spectators gathered at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata to bid farewell to legendary Indian footballer Sunil Chhetri, but were left disappointed as India played an entertaining yet goalless draw against Kuwait in the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers match.

The crowd gave a standing ovation to the maestro while teammates honored him with an emotional guard of honor. Chhetri’s 151st and final game in Indian colors needed to end in a win for India to qualify for the third round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. However, Kuwait proved to be a tough opponent, denying the Indian captain the perfect sendoff.

Chhetri was seen tearing up after the final whistle as he greeted the fans around the stadium. The draw means that India’s fate does not lie in their own hands. India will next travel to Qatar on June 11 to play their last match of the second round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers.

After the game, a teary-eyed Chhetri took a lap of honor at the iconic stadium, with thousands of fans standing on their feet chanting his name. Even during the game, the crowd was buzzing, with everyone’s eyes locked on the veteran striker to score a goal in his final match in the Indian jersey.

Countless banners and posters of gratitude and admiration towards their departing hero were visible, with messages like “Sonar Sunil. Tomay Hrid Majhare Rakhbo” (Golden Sunil. Will keep you in my heart), “India Till I Die,” and “Thanks Captain. Leader. Legend” reflecting the love and respect he earned throughout his career.

Not only Chhetri but also his father, who was present at the venue, admitted to getting emotional watching his son say goodbye to the sport he debuted in 19 years ago.

MTNews Desk

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