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‘There Will Be a Huge Gap To Fill Now’: Bhaichung Bhutia on Chhetri’s Retirement

Former Indian captain Bhaichung Bhutia has reacted to Sunil Chhetri's retirement.

Published
Football
2 min read
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It is truly a sad day for Indian football as Sunil Chhetri, one of the greatest players in Indian football, has announced his decision to retire following FIFA World Cup 2026 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 match against Kuwait in Kolkata on 6 June.

As the news spread, some of the biggest names in India have shared their views on the 39-year old's retirement call.

Bhaichung Bhutia, who Chhetri admired most and under whom Chhetri grew up, has said that “he has contributed so much to Indian football. Indian football is going to miss a legendary footballer like him."
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He has contributed so much to Indian football. Indian football is going to miss a legendary footballer like him. There will be a huge gap to fill now. Overall I think he was too professional and is one of the greatest examples to the generations to come. His focused dedication is exemplary.
Bhaichung Bhutia

Chhetri played his 150th match against Afghanistan in March earlier this year. The iconic number nine of Indian football made his debut in 2005 for the national team scoring 93 goals for the country.

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The skipper is India’s all-time top scorer and the most capped player for the national side. He is also the third highest scorer for the National team among active players only behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

"There are few players without whom the sport is left poorer. Sunil Chhetri is one. We are lucky to have him play for India. it is not over yet. He still has to lead us against Kuwait and win it for us, to make the most fond farewell for Sunil and for Indian football. He is an icon, legend. For him Indian football has benefitted in many ways. Wish him the best," said Kalyan Chaubey, president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Chhetri's one time teammate, one of the best goalkeepers the country has seen, Subrata Paul said, "I respect Sunil's decision to retire from international football. I understand it is a very tough call. We have been on the same side of the field numerous times, learning and pushing each other. He has been an inspiration and has set the standards exceptionally high. Good luck my friend for your life beyond the field. Looking forward to walking it together."
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Midfield general Mehtab Hussain, who played alongside Chhetri, in many matches recalled that he and Sunil used to play together for Mohun Bagan, the oldest club to still exist in India.

We started together at the Mohun Bagan club. See, every player has to call it a day, sooner or later. He might have understood or felt that this is my last match. It varies from person to person. He played for a very long time and gave his services to the National and club teams. Hats off to him the way he has taken himself to such a height. I, as a friend, feel proud of him
Mehtab Hussain

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