Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri on Thursday announced his international career will come to an end soon after serving the country for almost two decades.

Since his debut in 2005, Chhetri has epitomised excellence while serving the Indian football team. His remarkable achievements include notching an impressive 94 goals in 150 appearances, placing him among the top three active goal-scorers globally. 

Also Read: 'End of an Era!' - Social Media reacts to Sunil Chhetri's International retirement

As the face of Indian football, Chhetri holds the record for both the most appearances and goals for the Blue Tigers. In a poignant announcement on social media, Chhetri shared that the upcoming World Cup Qualifier against Kuwait in Kolkata will mark his final appearance in the national team jersey, bidding farewell to a remarkable chapter in Indian football.

Here is the full transcript of Chhetri’s retirement announcement video:

“There's one day that I never forget and remember it quite often. It is the first time I played for my country, man. It was unbelievable. But the day before, (the) morning of the day, Sukhi sir (Sukhwinder Singh), my first national team coach, in the morning, he came to me and he's like, 'you're going to start.' I can't tell you how I was feeling, man. I took my jersey; I sprayed some perfume on it. I have no idea why. So that day, everything that happened once he told me from breakfast to lunch and to the game and to my first goal in my debut, conceding late 80th minute that day is probably (something) that I will never forget. And that is one of the best days of my national team journey.”

“You know, the feeling that I recollect in the last 19 years is a very nice combination between duty, pressure, and immense joy. I never thought individually, these are the many games that I've played for the country. This is what I've done, good or bad. But now I did it. This last one and a half, two months, I did it. And it was very strange. I did it because probably I was going towards the decision that this game, this next game is going to be my last. And the moment I told myself first that, 'yes, this is the game that is going to be my last,' is when I started recollecting everything. And it was so strange. Started thinking about this game, that game, this coach, that coach, that team, that member, that ground, that away match, this good game, that bad game, all my individual performances, everything came, all the flashes came.”

“So when I did decide that this is it, this is going to be my last game, I told, it's a funny one, I told my mom, my dad, my wife, and my family first. My dad was normal. He was relieved, happy, everything. But my mom and my wife strangely started crying. And I told them, you always used to bug me that there are too many games, there's too much pressure when you watch me. And now that I'm telling you that, you know, I'm not going to play for my country anymore after this game. And even they couldn't express to me as to why they burst into tears. It's not that I was feeling tired. It's not that I was feeling this or that. When the instinct came that it should be my last game, then I thought about it a lot and eventually I came to this decision.”

“Will I be sad after this? Of course. Do I feel sad sometimes, every day because of this? Yes. Do I feel like the train.. I'll miss the train and after (the) run. And there's just 20 days of training and it will all be gone. Yes. It took time because the kid inside me, he never wants to stop, if given a chance to play for his country, man, never.”

“I've got, I'm really fortunate in my life. There have been so many amazing things that have happened to me. I practically live a dream. But nothing comes close to playing for the country. So the kid kept fighting, and probably even in (the) future, will keep fighting inside. I think the sensible, the mature player, a person inside knows it, knew it, that this is it. But it wasn't easy.”

“Every training that I do with the national team now, and I can say it because my name has come in the camp. Every training that I do with the national team, I just want to enjoy it, man. I can feel that. I don't feel the pressure where this game demands pressure. Against Kuwait, we need the three points to qualify for the next round, (the) third round. It's hugely important for us, but in a very strange and nice way, I don't feel the pressure because I know these 15-20 days of training with the national team and the match against Kuwait is the last. So I'm quite certain that I'm just going to go there and enjoy and give whatever that I've got.”

“I'll say something controversial. I don't think I know any player who has got more love, affection, and adulation from the fans in a holistic manner in my country than me. A lot of times people talk about the highest scorer, these or that number of games. But the one thing that I think that I've got the best and I'm really pampered is the love and affection that I've got.”

“I think it's time for our country to see the next number nine. It is time that we build on it already. Already we are a little bit handicapped because a lot of players, boys do not play as number nines at their clubs. And that's a different topic we can talk about. At least now when I'm not going to be there, I am pretty sure there are so many of them who are going to step up and they will need time.”

“You know how a lot of things in your life go well and you enjoy, but you still want that one thing which gives you an extra boost or a different kind of happiness where everything good going in your life seems small. The national team is that for me, but I'm going to miss everything about it. From the day that the name comes that you're called to the camp, joining them, meeting all the players from different clubs, having one agenda, sitting, training together, dining together, and then wearing the jersey and the national anthem.”

“From my first camp, first captain (Shanmugam) Venkatesh, From Bhaichung Bhutia, Renedy Singh, Samir (Subash) Naik, Subrata Pal, Surkumar (Singh), N. P. Pradeep, Climax Lawrence, Steven Dias, Abhishek Yadav, Mehrajuddin (Wadoo), so many of them to this team, young ones. I ask them, what's your age? 2002. What's your age? 2003. They tell me the date of birth. All of them, the entire team, the players that I've played with, the teams that I've played against, the coaches that I've learned from right from my first coach, Sukhi Sir (Sukhwinder Singh), Bob Houghton, Armando (Colaco) Sir, Wim Koevermans, Savio (Madeira) Sir, Stephen Constantine, Igor Stimac. To the doctors, to the physios, to everyone.”

“And I'm just taking all your names so that, you know, without you, these 19 years would not have been possible. Personally, I've spoken to you and I've told you this right from when I was 20 to now when I'm 39, I've been so much loved and encouraged and people have gone so wild with happiness, when I do well, I think it's a great fortune of mine. So thank you. Thank you to the core group who has helped me to be the kind of player that I became over the 19 years. To the fans, to the ones who were thinking that I should retire, I hope it makes you happy. To the ones who think that I shouldn't have and I did well, thank you. Because of your love and affection, I've reached 19 years. Make sure you understand that you are a part of it.”

“Yeah. One last game against Kuwait. For all our sakes, let's do, let's do a good game, let's win the game. And we can depart happily.”

“And it's a wrap. Good man.”

Interviewer: "Do you ever wish the little boy was slightly older to watch and understand what his dad is doing on a pitch?"

Chhetri: “Yes. I would have loved to walk with him to at least my last game. I would have loved for him to at least see what (his) father did, all the way performed. Thankfully unlike old times, there will be videos, but then yes, I would have loved for him to come and watch his father for the last time.”

Interviewer: "Finally, if he were given the choice to have something inscribed on a headstone that is related to Indian football, what would it be?"

Chhetri: “I've never thought about it. It might sound funny, strange, whatever. But anyway, my last match. The luckiest and the most hard-working national team player.”