Sunil Chhetri has been the face of Indian football on the global stage for over two decades and currently stands as the third-highest active goalscorer in the world, behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

The Indian football team captain announced on Thursday that he will draw the curtains on his illustrious 19-year international career after the upcoming World Cup Qualifier game against Kuwait on June 6. As he prepares to play his final match in national colours, he leaves behind a legacy that will endure.

His remarkable football career has earned him the nation’s highest goal-scorer with 94 goals and amassing an impressive 150 appearances for his country.

Indian head coach Igor Stimac expressed his respect for Chhetri’s decision to retire and showered praise on what he has done for Indian football over the last 19 years.

The Croat also expressed his optimism about delivering a standout performance in their forthcoming match against Kuwait next month to bid a heartwarming farewell to their captain.

"He knows best how he feels and when it's the appropriate time to do things,” Stimac told

“I just wish we all do everything to make June 6 very memorable for him and all Indian football fans," he added.

Chhetri not only impresses with his performance and records but also with his approach to the game, his hard work, dedication, and leadership qualities both on and off the pitch, setting himself as a role model to be idolized by the nation for years to come.

"He became a legend while still playing, and that’s something only a few can do,” opined Stimac.

“He's an inspiration to everyone, absolutely committed to the Indian jersey, which is something these youngsters need to follow. Playing for the country with passion and love, and as he said, with 'intense joy'," he added.

Stimac expressed his delight at the opportunity to coach a player like Chhetri, who has established himself as a modern-day legend during his playing career. The Croatian revealed the special relationship that he shared with the 39-year-old over the past five years as the head coach of the Blue Tigers.

"I had the pleasure of coaching such a wonderful human being and getting to know his beautiful family," he shared.

The Croatian extends his best wishes to his most reliable forward for his retirement days. The head coach also believes that whatever Chhetri pursues in his post-football career will ultimately benefit the entire country in a broader sense.

"We were more than simply a coach and a player, and I am very proud of the relationship we have amongst us and the group. I am very confident that whatever he decides to do after football will have an immense impact on society in a very positive way. He was born to become a GOAT," Stimac commented.