Midfielder Lalrindika Ralte who played for several Hero Indian Super League (ISL) clubs including Mumbai City FC, NorthEast United FC and ATK FC announced his retirement from football on Saturday to bring an end to a 13-year-old professional career.

Ralte was a key member of the ATK FC team that won their second Hero ISL title in 2016 under head coach Jose Molina. He also had stints with Mumbai City FC and NorthEast United FC and featured in the Hero ISL on 39 occasions.

He scored two goals and five assists in the competition.

“After giving my heart and soul to the sport that gave me my identity, I end the first chapter as a professional footballer and look forward to the start of a new one.

I would like to thank each and everyone for their constant love and support over the years,” he added.

Just 29, Ralte’s rather premature retirement comes in the wake of the prevailing circumstances due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has made it hard for football to be taken place in the normal circumstances.

"Initially, I was thinking, 'I will play for as long as I can.' But with the COVID-19 situation, the players were forced to play inside bio-bubbles, without fans. The experience of football wasn't the same. The coach also asked me to continue playing," Lalrindika Ralte told Khel Now in an interview explaining the reason behind hanging up his boots.

"But my father was infected by COVID-19 twice and I also have two little kids, so after discussing with my family, I felt this was the right moment as the COVID-19 situation doesn't seem to be coming to a stop any time soon,” he added.

Ralte began his career at Goan club Churchill Brothers before signing for East Bengal where he spent five seasons. After a spell with the Highlanders, he returned to play with East Bengal in 2018 for a two-year spell.

He last featured for Real Kashmir FC in the I-League in 2021.