It is a perfect decision, says Subrata Bhattacharya on Sunil Chhetri announcing his retirement

Subrata Bhattacharya and Sunil Chhetri
Subrata Bhattacharya and Sunil Chhetri (PC: Debasis Sen & Rahul Giri)

Sunil Chhetri, the iconic footballer, and captain of the Indian national team, announced his retirement from the international scene, on Thursday. Chhetri will be stepping on the Yuvabharati Krirangan for one last time for Blue Tigers in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Kuwait on June 6. The 39-year-old will go down as one of the greatest Indian footballers in this era.

On his part, former India footballer and coach, Subrata Bhattacharya, feels Chhetri has taken the correct decision. “It is a perfect decision taken by him. Sunil has played successfully for India. I remember giving him an opportunity at Mohun Bagan club.

“His biggest quality has been his dedication and discipline. He has also been a great human being. According to me, he achieved everything in Indian football,” said Subrata in an exclusive chat with RevSportz.

On being asked if the family knew about Chhetri’s decision to retire, he noted, “There was not any indication as far as his (Sunil) retirement was concerned. His father and mother had a lot of interest in football. He has nothing more to give back to Indian football.”

Chhetri currently holds the record of being the third-highest scorer of international goals among active footballers, after Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo. In his overall career, across club and country, Chhetri’s goal tally stands at a remarkable 252 in 515 appearances, averaging almost a goal every two games.

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Sunil Chhetri
Sunil Chhetri (Photo: AIFF)

“This is an incredible record. It speaks highly about his dedication, hard work and commitment. It is not a matter of joke to score so many goals. It is a great achievement. The secret has been his dedication and his sincerity,” he pointed out.

Incidentally, it was Subrata, who coached a young Chhetri when he first came to Mohun Bagan club back in 2002. “I still remember he scored a goal from a bicycle kick like Shyam da (Thapa). I was quite impressed to see him score that goal and immediately told the officials to watch out for him. He never used to skip training sessions. What I liked about him was his willingness to improve his game every day.”

Asked to comment on the qualities of Chhetri, given his stature in Indian football, Subrata said, “He has never disrespected anyone.  He has never got angry nor did he misbehave with anyone. He is a thorough team-man.”

He added, “He was not an inborn talent but he is a hardworking footballer. He always had a cool temperament.”

On being asked to compare  Chhetri with other greats of the game in the country, Subrata told, “No doubt there will be a hole in Indian football after his retirement. After Chuni, you had Parimal Dey but he was not like him. After Surojit Sengupta and Subhash Bhowmik, there was no replacement for a while. Then you had Bhaichung Bhutia and IM Vijayan.”

Come June 6, it is expected to be a full house at the Yuvabharati Krirangan for the legend’s farewell match against Kuwait. “In a game of football, one team wins and the other loses. He has played for a long time. Whatever the result, it will be a big match for him and the team. If I get an invitation, I will surely be present at the stadium,” he signed off.

Also Read: Legend Sunil Chhetri breaks a billion hearts as he says goodbye