World Cup Qualifier: Skipper Sunil Chhetri signs off in style, gives one last message to media

Skipper Sunil Chhetri signs off in style, gives one last message to media after final appearance for the national team in the FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Kuwait at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Thursday. Photo credit: AIFF /IANS

Kolkata, June 6 (IANS) On a night in which the spotlight shone on India’s brightest star, an emotional Sunil Chhetri did not make an appearance at the post-game conference. The Indian skipper managed to sign off one last time in a way only he could, one which oozes class.

“To my friends from the media-

Over the last 19 years, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with so many of you, on more than a few occasions. There were times when I had to say a lot less than I would have liked to, and others when I responded to your questions with long monologues.

“There were the answers laced with frustration, the ones that were — much to your annoyance — non-committal, and then the press conferences that ended in a hurry. But through it all, I’d like to believe that I was always honest with you. And that I always chose to have a conversation with you, even if it risked making headlines for reasons beyond those that I would have liked,” read the letter by Chhetri.

Despite the disappointment of the goalless draw between India and Kuwait, the legend of Chhetri got the farewell he deserved, the crowd of Salt Lake rose to applaud and bow down to the man who changed Indian football. He lapped the stadium applauding fans and got a guard of honour from his teammates which also saw the number 11 break down into tears before exiting the pitch.

“I wanted to — by way of this letter and this occasion- thank you for playing the role you did in telling my story. Thank you for the love and adulation you have shown me through your prose and photographs. But most importantly, thank you for the times you’ve been honest in your assessment of the way I’ve played or carried myself,” added India’s all-time top scorer.

The game against Kuwait was the 39-year-old’s 151st and final game of a storied national career and will forever be remembered with fondness.

“You had, and will always have the best seats in the house. I just hope that over these 19 years, I made that experience just a little more special. Maybe I’ll join you in your dugout for a game or two.

“Signing off with gratitude, Sunil Chhetri,” concluded the emotional letter.

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