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Curtain Call For Sunil Chhetri: Retires as a Legend of Indian Football Sunil Chhetri retires from international football after 19 years. Take a look at the 39 year old's footballing legacy.

By Entrepreneur Staff

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All India Football Federation

India national football team's captain, Sunil Chhetri, has played his last game for the country in a nil-nil draw against Kuwait for the FIFA World Cup Qualifier on 6th of June, 2024. Only a few people in world football have had such humongous impacts on their national teams and Chhetri is one of them.

Take a look at the extensive list of achievements of the third most active top goalscorers in the world as he hangs up his boots for the next generation to take the mantle.

A legacy of champions

Born on August 3, 1984, in Secunderabad, Sunil Chhetri embarked on his professional football journey with Mohun Bagan in 2002. His remarkable skills and contributions led India to victories at the Nehru Cup in 2007, 2009, and 2012.

Additionally, Chhetri played a pivotal role in India's triumphs at the SAFF Championships in 2011, 2015, 2021, and 2023. Notably, he captained India to victory in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup, securing their qualification for the AFC Asian Cup after 27 years. With 94 international goals in 150 matches, Chhetri stands as India's top goalscorer and the third-highest active goalscorer globally, trailing only to Argentina's Lionel Messi and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.

Dive deeper

Not many players in the Indian sports realm have the right to say that they have made their debut for India against arch-rivals Pakistan. Chhetri made his senior squad debut in June 2005 against Pakistan and even scored on the same day. He won his first international trophy when India defeated Syria in the final of the 2007 Nehru Cup. From there he would go on to win two more Nehru Cup titles with India in 2009 and 2012.

In March of 2010, Chhetri signed a contract with MLS side Kansas City Wizards making him the first Indian to play in North America and the third Indian to play abroad.

The subsequent year witnessed Sunil Chhetri's remarkable hat-trick in the AFC Challenge Cup finale, leading India to a resounding 4-1 victory over Tajikistan. His significant contributions continued to propel India as a formidable power in South Asian football, evidenced by additional triumphs in the SAFF Championship in the years 2011, 2015, 2021, and 2023.

In his illustrious career, India's former star striker Bhaichung Bhutia handed over the leadership mantle to Sunil Chhetri, selecting him to captain the national football team. Chhetri played in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup and was first appointed as the national team captain during the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers.

Sunil Chhetri also made his debut for the reserve side of Sporting CP in October 2012; a team Cristiano Ronaldo had once been part of. He had brief stints back in India, with Chirag United and Mohun Bagan, before securing a move to Europe.

Chhetri has earned the esteemed All India Football Federation (AIFF) Player of the Year award a whopping seven times, with accolades spanning the years 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018-19, and 2021-22.

In 2011, Sunil Chhetri was honored with the Arjuna Award, and in 2021, he received the Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, becoming the first and only footballer to achieve this prestigious recognition. Under his captaincy, India climbed into the top 100 FIFA rankings in 2023, marking the first return to this tier since 2018.

Sunil Chhetri has not announced his retirement from club football, so he is anticipated to continue playing for Bengaluru FC in the ISL. Since 2013, he has represented the club in both the I-League and the Indian Super League.

(Source: The Hindu)

Learning curve

Chhetri's ongoing career is a testament to his entrepreneurial spirit, showcasing his ability to adapt, lead, and innovate within the ever-evolving landscape of football.

Just as successful entrepreneurs persist in their ventures, continuously seeking growth opportunities, Chhetri remains dedicated to his club, leveraging his experience and influence to drive the team's success. His journey from a young player at Mohun Bagan to a celebrated leader at Bengaluru FC illustrates the importance of resilience, strategic thinking, and the willingness to embrace new challenges—traits essential for entrepreneurship.

Moreover, Chhetri's leadership on and off the field mirrors the entrepreneurial drive to inspire and elevate others. By mentoring younger players and setting high standards, he ensures a legacy that extends beyond his playing years, much like how entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses that thrive even after they step down.

In essence, Sunil Chhetri's perseverance serves as a blueprint for entrepreneurial success through relentless pursuit of excellence, innovative thinking, and impactful leadership. We all can take a page out of his book to read in our entrepreneurial journey.

Entrepreneur Staff

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor

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