Indian football icon Sunil Chhetri on Thursday announced his decision to retire from international football after the FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Kuwait in Kolkata on June 6, bringing the curtains down on a glorious two-decade career. The long-serving national team captain announced his decision via a video he posted on his social media accounts. India are currently second in Group A with four points, behind leaders Qatar.

“The feel that I recollect in the last 19 years is a very nice combination of duty, pressure and immense joy,” the 39-year-old Chhetri said while announcing his decision to retire.

“I never thought individually these are the games I’ve played for the country, this is what I’ve done good, I’ve done bad. But, now I did it, this last one-and-a-half two months. It felt very strange,” he said. “I did it because I was going towards the decision that the next game was going to be my last.”

“Every training that I do with the national team, I just want to enjoy. The game against Kuwait demands pressure, we need the three points to qualify for the next round. It’s hugely important for us,” the skipper said.

“But in a strange way, I don’t feel the pressure because these 15-20 days with the national team and the match against Kuwait is the last,” he added.

Chhetri had made his 150th appearance for India in March and scored on the occasion against Afghanistan in Guwahati. India, though, lost that game 1-2.

Chhetri, who made his debut in 2005, has scored 94 goals for the country. He will leave the scene as India’s all-time top scorer and most-capped player. He is also third in the list of goal scorers among active players behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

(With Added Inputs)

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