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India stalwart Chhetri announces international retirement

NEW DELHI : India captain Sunil Chhetri, the country's most prolific scorer, will retire from international football after the World Cup qualifier against Kuwait on June 6, the 39-year-old announced on Thursday.

Chhetri has been the face of Indian soccer for nearly a decade-and-half and his 94 international goals make him the third-highest active international goalscorer after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

"It was not that I was feeling tired," Chhetri said in a video he posted on social media.

"When the instinct came this should be my last game, I thought about it a lot and eventually I came to this decision."

"Will I be sad after this? Of course...the kid inside me never wants to stop if given a chance to play for his country."

"It's time for our country to see the next number nine."

Chhetri is also India's most-capped player having played 150 international matches since his debut against Pakistan in 2005.

"Your legacy on and off-the-field will always be remembered," the All India Football Federation (AIFF) said in a post on X.

"Thank you @chetrisunil11 for your leadership, dedication and commitment to Indian football."