The Indian football icon has announced his retirement from the sport. –

Currently, he holds the record for the third highest international scorer among active football players, after Argentina's Lionel Messi and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.

In a nine-minute and 51-second video post on X, Chhetri recalled the high and low moments of his long career and expressed sadness over his decision.

“The young people inside may continue to struggle to play football, but the wise players and adults know this is the end,” he said. “But it’s not easy,” he added.

Tributes have been pouring in for X, with many fans expressing their gratitude for his contribution to Indian football.

“End of an era” is sometimes used loosely in sports, but for Indian football, nothing could be truer than that. Sunil Chhetri – captain, leader, legend – announces his retirement,” said a fan.

“An all-time Indian football legend,” wrote another.

Fans and experts say that Chhetri's perseverance in international football, along with his work ethic, are the key factors behind his success.

In India, he has won several football awards, including the Arjuna Award – the country's second highest sporting honor – and the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian award.

On the world stage, he has led teams to victory in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup, South Asian Football Federation Championship, Intercontinental Cup and many others.

Chhetri, known for following a strict diet and exercising, told the BBC in a previous interview of the “small sacrifices” he had made.

“It all depends on what I eat and how much sleep I get. For the kind of beautiful life I have by the grace of God, it's okay to choose broccoli over biryani – because I know I'll have enough time for such a pleasure once I 'I'll be done with the game,' he said.

Now that Chhetri has hung up his boots, the question that will surely bother fans and players is 'After Chhetri, who else?'

Cheryl Tenny

"Thinker. Food advocate. Incurable coffee enthusiast. Communicator. Proud student. Zombie buff. Tv fanatic. Extreme troublemaker."

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