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All key quotes from Sunil Chhetri's post-retirement press conference

Published at :May 18, 2024 at 12:11 AM
Modified at :May 18, 2024 at 12:12 AM
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Manav Chowdhury


The Indian football team great will play his game for the country against Kuwait in June.

India will face Kuwait on 6th June in Kolkata in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and this match will be the last international outing for Indian team captain Sunil Chhetri. The skipper announced his retirement via a small video clip of nine minutes.

In the upcoming match, the Indian team have to win if they want to go into the third round of the qualifiers which they have never done in history and the crucial home encounter will be a game to be remembered.

Message to fans

“Good afternoon everyone, first of all, to start with thank you for being there in the last 19 years, not only individually for me but for the team. For all of them who have been here with me for 19 years, thank you so much, it was a great ride. For the new ones, thank you for supporting and encouraging and writing stuff about me and the about the national team. I genuinely feel gratitude.

“To answer the question I am not sure how I will behave. When I missed a few games because of an injury and I was watching from home in Delhi, I was always jittery I was not relaxed, but I am not thinking about that right now. For now, I am just thinking about Kuwait. Thankfully, at the camp I announce it. Everything is done and dusted. We all are quite calm. All of us we are just thinking about Kuwait.”

Importance of support staff

“Not only at the club level but also in the national team many people have helped. They were amazing, I think individually to take care of health in terms of precaution was not that difficult, I will not term it as a sacrifice, it came naturally to me. I gathered more people around me who were knowledgeable and who gave me the information. To apply it to myself was not difficult at all, it’s a part of being a modern footballer.

“When I was struggling here and there in that department in the national team all the masseurs, all the physiotherapists, all the doctors have been outstanding. I have expressed my gratitude to them. There is one particular person, Gigi George, he has been with the national team for 12+ years. He is one of the reasons I have been able to perform many times.

“Even when I thought I couldn’t he along with all the people have been remarkably responsible for me to play as many games as possible. I genuinely mean it, when I couldn’t even walk they made me run. At times when things looked very dim as far as my injuries were concerned, they just applied their magic and I couldn’t be more thankful for whatever they have done.”

Future of Indian football

“Very bright and I am really optimistic, a lot of fight for different positions. As a No. 9 there are a lot of candidates who are doing well. Unfortunately, they don’t play enough games in that position in the ISL and in due time I hope that changes. A lot of the attacking players are doing really well. Whether you take Liston and Manvir or Bipin, Vikram Pratap or Chhangte or Thapa playing as a No. 10 or Sahal.

“All the attacking players have done well. I do understand that the No. 9 is a very specific one. But, I am pretty sure with the talent we have, the hunger we have, we need to be a little bit patient with the structure we have with this team.”

How he wants to be remembered?

“I have got some clips. I also have a kid in my home who will say what have you done? So, it’s a part of life that the new generation will forget about the older generation. I have not played the game to get praised by someone. I am at peace and I am living my dream and that’s they way it is.”

Who’s next after Chhetri?

“There are a lot of attacking players who are doing well. The two (ISL) final teams and four of their wingers were really good, all of them were Indians. it is different playing for the club and for the country, it requires a different hunger and energy.”

Regrets of not scoring 100 goals

“When I started I never thought I will score this much, it was never a part of my plans. Playing 150 games for the country is very unique and not reaching 100 goals does not bother me at all.

“To tell you my favourite goal it is difficult, but the one goal that I can think of right now is the goal against Kyrgyzstan in Bengaluru when we need to qualify for the 2019 edition of the Asian Cup.”

Taking the final decision

“It took quite a while, every day I was fighting within myself. I was just thinking about myself and eventually I came to the decision. It wasn’t easy, but now I am at peace. I think I took the right decision and playing 150 games is amazing. We will just talk about Kuwait and the qualification.”

Criticism made him take decision?

“The ones who wanted me to retire they were also my well-wishers. The decision was all mine Since I signed for Bengaluru FC I have been hearing all these things. I don’t take all that into my head while making decisions. My decision was entirely what I thought.”

Goals as a player

“I never had any goals. I just went match-by-match. We are a developing nation in football, so every match is all about improving and it has not been easy, as sometimes we go up and then go down. We want to be in the top 10 in Asia and we want to go to the top and stay there. Apart from that, I did not have any goals for me.”

Plans after international retirement

“After the 6th of June I will retire. After the ISL finished we had a break and I got chickenpox and my wife also had chicken pox because of me. So after that, I will just rest for some days and will begin the pre-season for Bengaluru FC.”

First thought of retirement

“10-15 days post-Afghanistan games, I thought about everything and hence I came to make this decision. It is important for me to bring value to the team. Sometimes, I think I am being carried by the team, which I don’t like in terms of numbers and in terms of GPS.

“When you are in your prime you bring more value, when you are old you bring less value. I am leaving in a very nice way and I am happy that it is going to happen.”

Secret of Success

“A great family and great surroundings. Great wife, outstanding teammates, amazing coaches and a lot of players who have worked really hard to help me. Whatever I have achieved is because of a lot of people. It’s all about hard work and having outstanding people near you, that’s the recipe.”

Decision to come back to India

“I went there (Europe) when I was 23-24-years-old. If I had gone there at 17-18 I would loved to have stayed there. I was in a top club in terms of talent development and I used to enjoy it. I was already old and was not getting game time.

“I was only getting 10 minutes, 15 minutes even after a lot of work. Four-year deal I had with them. If I was 16, or 17 I would have closed my mind and head and would stay there. It’s an amazing city and amazing players there. but it’s not a regretful call.”

Fans in Kolkata

“Whenever the national team plays in Kolkata at the Salt Lake, the fans come in numbers, I will just say come in numbers and enjoy the game. Hopefully, we can all go happy after the game.”

Fans’ love & messages

“Pleasantly shocking. But, now when I see the messages which I am getting I’m glad. I am getting so much love. it feels really great. But, today it ends because tomorrow we focus for the Kuwait game.

“Very few people get this, it’s very unique. I am very fortunate and I don’t take it for granted. I hope I can return all the love on 6th June.”

Worst moment for national team

“There are so many, but when we were not able to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup it was a very poor team performance and I am still angry about it.”

Helping national team after retirement

“I have one year with BFC and after that I want to take a sabbatical. I want to bring some values and I will look at myself and think about it. My family have sacrificed a lot. Football has given me a lot, so I want to give back. But first, I want to see that I am good at.”

Style of football of national team

“I personally like possession football. In the ISL, they play various strategies. If we give time and information they can adapt to the coach’s philosophy. The style needs to be in sync and the whole team needs to be on the same page.

“It is not hugely important to play abroad, but still, it’s good that the ISL is getting better. We have some good coaches and players. We need to identify the talent early and it will take time. Slowly and steadily it will improve.”

Best moment of career

“The first time I played for the country and all three times we qualified for the Asian Cup.”

Discussions with Igor Stimac

“He understood and he knew how badly I wanted to play. Even after getting substituted, I was not happy and he knew how frustrated I was. When I did go to him I said it will be my last game, so he understood because he was also a player.”

Plans for Coaching

“In the future, I think I will want to get a coaching license, not because of having dream of becoming a coach. Coaches have a lot of stress. I don’t want that kind of pressure. Coaching is not on my agenda and I will keep doing courses, but coaching is like 10 times playing.”

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