Sports news | Bhutie: Hard work, passion and professionalism are what sets Chhetri apart from other players

New Delhi, May 16 (PTI) Retired Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri's hard work, passion and professionalism set him apart from other players of his generation and became an iconic player, said his former captain Bhaichung Bhutia.

Chhetri, 39, on Thursday announced his decision to retire after the FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Kuwait on June 6 in Kolkata, ending a brilliant career unrivaled in Indian football in terms of longevity and regularity.

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“His hard work, his passion, his dedication, his true professionalism and his focus and desire to improve every day are what sets him apart. “As a youngster, he was always ready to learn and did everything possible (to excel),” Bhutia told PTI on Thursday, praising Chhetri.

“Sunil has rendered extraordinary service to Indian football and his contribution is immense. This is a huge loss for Indian football. He would go on to become one of the greatest players India has ever produced.

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Bhutia was already an Indian football star and captain of the team by the time Chhetri made his debut in 2005. They became excellent striking partners during their six years playing together in the Indian team, mainly under the tutelage of the Englishman Bob Houghton.

Chhetri then took over from Bhutia who retired in 2011. In fact, Chhetri surpassed almost all records of Bhutia.

The 47-year-old legend said: “We have a good understanding as attacking partners and I like that.

“When I came, (IM) Vijayan was my senior and when I was about to retire, Sunil came. I was lucky to be somewhere in between.

Chhetri has in the past acknowledged the influence of Bhutia on his career, particularly in his youth.

Bhutia said Chhetri was different from others and he knew that since the youngster joined the famous Mohun Bagan club in 2002.

“From the first day he arrived in Kolkata as a professional, I was there in Mohun Bagan. As we are from the hills, we are always developing relationships on and off the field,” said the ‘Sikimese sniper’.

“He (Sunil) never loses focus and concentration. Many players were with him and came to Mohun Bagan at that time, but many also lost track of him. But Sunil is different.

(This is an unedited, auto-generated story from a syndicated news feed; current staff may not have edited or edited the text)

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