Sunil Chhetri: Watch: Teammates give tearful Sunil Chhetri ‘guard of honour’ after India-Kuwait tie | Football News

NEW DELHI: The Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata bore witness to a poignant spectacle as Indian football legend Sunil Chhetri took the field for the last time in national colours, with the team members giving the Indian football legend a teary guard of honour. The occasion, a World Cup Qualifier against Kuwait, transcended the usual fervour of a football match, transforming into a heartfelt tribute to the man who has been the face of Indian football for nearly two decades.
Despite the stands being nearly full, a palpable sense of melancholy hung in the air. The impending retirement of Chhetri, a player intrinsically linked with Indian football for 19 years, left a void yet to be filled. The stadium, awash in a sea of blue jerseys, many bearing Chhetri’s iconic No. 11, reflected the immense respect and admiration the nation held for their captain.
Chhetri’s arrival was met with a hero’s welcome. Fans, unfazed by a passing thunderstorm, lined the streets leading to the stadium, their cheers and chants of “India, India” echoing through the air. The iconic “Lozenge Mashi,” a familiar fixture at the Salt Lake Stadium, received a warm embrace from Chhetri.
A video shows Chhetri unable to hold back his tears as his teammates gave him a well-deserved guard of honour.

Inside the stadium, a sea of banners and posters adorned the galleries, each expressing gratitude and admiration for their departing hero. Messages like “Sonar Sunil. Tomay Hrid Majhare Rakhbo” (Golden Sunil. Will keep you in my heart), “India Till I Die,” and “Thanks Captain. Leader. Legend” encapsulated the sentiments of a nation bidding farewell to its beloved captain.
The pre-match ceremony was a testament to Chhetri’s stature. Dignitaries, including the AIFF president and the state sports minister, greeted him with respect and warmth. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, through a heartfelt social media post, acknowledged Chhetri’s contributions.
“Welcome Sunil Chhetri @chetrisunil11 to the beginning of a glorious new journey. You start a new phase of life today. You have been a golden boy of Bengal, Captain of the Indian football team, a sports icon of Asia, a globally adored scorer, a giant achiever. I am sure that you will continue to play, add to our glory and achieve many more laurels for yourself and us. It is not a day of farewell for you. It is a day to renew your pledge to uphold the glory of your family, Bengal and India further and further. Wish and pray for your future successes,” West Bengal CM wrote in her post on X.
On the field, the 39-year-old Chhetri defied his age, displaying the same youthful energy and determination that had become his trademark. Despite his best efforts, India couldn’t secure a victory, but the result seemed secondary to the occasion. The crowd, chanting his name throughout the match, provided a fitting soundtrack to Chhetri’s final bow in Indian colours.
As the final whistle blew, marking the end of an era, Chhetri stood tall, a symbol of perseverance, dedication, and unwavering passion. His legacy, etched in the hearts of millions, will continue to inspire generations of aspiring footballers in India. While his journey with the national team came to an end, a new chapter awaited, one that promised to be equally impactful and inspiring.
(Inputs from PTI)


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