Sunil Chhetri Retirement: Baichung Bhutia Hails 'Iconic Player' Of Unmatched Passion And Professionalism

(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) Retiring Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri's unparalleled dedication, passion, and professionalism distinguished him from his peers, believes former captain Bhaichung Bhutia. Chhetri, 39, announced his retirement after the FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Kuwait on June 6 in Kolkata, concluding a remarkable career noted for its longevity and consistency.

"His sheer hard work, passion, dedication, and true professionalism-his focus and desire to improve every day-are what set him apart. As a young player, he was always eager to learn and do whatever it took to excel," Bhutia told PTI, paying tribute to Chhetri.

"Sunil has made a tremendous contribution to Indian football. His retirement is a significant loss for the sport in India. He will be remembered as one of the greatest players the country has ever produced."

By the time Chhetri debuted in 2005, Bhutia was already a leading figure in Indian football. Together, they formed a formidable strike partnership under coach Bob Houghton. Chhetri eventually succeeded Bhutia, who retired in 2011, surpassing many of Bhutia's records.

"We had an excellent understanding as strike partners and enjoyed playing together. I am honoured to have shared the field with him," said the 47-year-old Bhutia.

Reflecting on his career, Chhetri has often acknowledged Bhutia's influence, especially during his early years. Bhutia recalled recognising Chhetri's potential from the start, when the young player joined Mohun Bagan in 2002.

"From day one in Kolkata as a professional, I saw his potential. Being from the hills, we developed a strong relationship on and off the field," said the 'Sikkimese Sniper'.

"He never lost his focus. Many players who joined Mohun Bagan around the same time lost their way, but Sunil was different."

Also Read:
Sunil Chhetri's Inspiring Journey: Top 10 performances for India


AsiaNet News

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