‘I am Indebted to The Sport And my Team’: Sunil Chhetri’s Emotional Tribute to Football Ahead of 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – News18

Approaching his international retirement, Indian football talisman Sunil Chhetri on Wednesday said he remains indebted to his teammates, and the sport, for helping him become one of the country’s greatest players.

The Indian team arrived in the city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Kuwait on June 6, which will be the 39-year-old Chhetri’s final outing in the blue jersey.

All eyes were on the goal-machine as the players exited the airport.

“These last few days, I’ve been caught in a bit of a dilemma. Now that there’s a number to my days with the national team, what’s the right route to take – do I count every day, every training session? Or do I simply turn up without the thought of how this is coming to an end?,” said Chhetri.

Chhetri, who has scored 94 goals from 150 international appearances, said he is counting his blessings every day.

“Over time, I seemed to have found middle ground. They say, count your blessings. And every single day I get to be on the pitch is a blessing that I’ve never taken for granted.

“So I’ve decided to count my sessions, but with a deep sense of gratitude. There’s no apprehension. Instead, there’s a feeling of being indebted to the sport, to my team, that I get to do this.

“If I could, I would capture this feeling in a box. Or instead, I’ll take it to my next training session.”

Any India match in the City of Joy draws much fanfare. However, this is not just any international game.

Earn three points, and the Blue Tigers will take a giant leap towards a first-ever appearance in Round 3 of the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers, while also inching closer to automatic qualification for the AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027.

Chhetri had earlier this month announced that June 6 will be his last appearance in the international arena.

After Bhubaneshwar, the India number 11 and the other 26 around him will continue their training camp in Kolkata, where they will have their first on-field training session on Thursday.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)