Updated May 16th, 2024 at 13:35 IST

'We are HANDICAPPED': Sunil Chhetri highlights big concern in Indian football in retirement speech

Sunil Chhetri has urged his teammates to step up in his absence and develop themselves as India's next number nine.

Reported by: Sahil Kapoor
Sunil Chhetri | Image:X/Screengrab
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Indian Football legend and men's team captain Sunil Chhetri stunned fans when he announced his retirement from international football on Thursday Morning. In his retirement message, India's most decorated footballer urged his teammates to step up in his absence and become India's next number nine. 

Sunil Chhetri in a video posted on X, announced that he will hang up his boots for the Blue Tigers after India's World Cup qualifier on June 6th vs Kuwait. In his illustrious 19 year career leading the line for Team India, Chhetri bagged 94 goals in 150 appearances for the nation. But over the past years and India's 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign it has become apparent that India is in dire need of a reliable goal scorer to take the baton from Sunil Chhetri.

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Also Read | A look at Sunil Chhetri's unparalleled career

Sunil Chhetri urges teammates to step up in search for India's next number 9

While, Sunil Chhetri kept the tone of his retirement video pretty poignant throughout his message and wanted to thank the people who made an impact on his career. There was one moment where Sunil Chhetri revealed that one of his primary reasons behind retirement is to start the development of India's next marksman. 

“I think it's time for our country to see the next number 9. It is time we build on it. Already we are a little bit handicapped because a lot of players and a lot of my national team boys do not play as number nine for their clubs”, said Sunil Chhetri in his retirement video. 

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While he did raise concern over India's lack of quality in the final third but he remained confident that his teammates will step up in his absence. 

 “That's a different topic we can talk about. Atleast now, when I am not going to be there, I am pretty sure a lot of them are going to step up and they will need time”, added Sunil Chhetri

Also Read | 'Just 20 days & it's all be gone': Sunil Chhetri announces retirement

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Sunil Chhetri will don the Captains armband and the Blue Tigers jersey for one final time when India faces Kuwait on June 6th at the Salk Lake Stadium. While, it is a must win encounter for India in their hopes for World Cup qualification, Sunil Chhetri instead of feeling the pressure is ready to enjoy the moment and his final 20 days leading up to his retiremet.  

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Published May 16th, 2024 at 13:21 IST