Sunil Chhetri felicitated by Eastern Command of Indian Army

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], June 7 (ANI): Football legend Sunil Chhetri, who played his last international game against Kuwait in a FIFA World Cup 2026 AFC qualifier second-round Group A match here at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK), was felicitated post-match by the Eastern Command of the Indian Army.

Lieutenant General Ram Chander Tiwari UYSM, AVSM, SM, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command, presented a sparklingly impressive memento to Sunil while paying rich tribute to his contribution to the sport. He was accompanied by Lt Gen Srikanth, VSM Chief of Staff HQ, Eastern Command and Maj Gen Rajesh Arun Moghe, VSM GOC Bengal Sub Area.

Lt. Gen. Tiwari elucidated the retiring Indian legend’s long relationship with the Army stating, "Sunil has always embodied the values of a professional soldier, fighting for his country till the very end and against all odds. Athletes like him are a role model for the youth of this country and the Indian Army is proud of its long association with such a legend of football. Son of an Army man, Sunil has made the entire Army fraternity proud with his attitude, commitment and dedication in a long and memorable career. We wish him a most fulfilling life after he is done playing the game."Captain fantastic and legend Sunil Chhetri, who with his 94 international goals, was the highest international goal scorer playing actively, has had the backing and support of the Indian Army all along his journey towards becoming a professional footballer.

His father, KB Chhetri, was an officer in the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers of the Indian Army and he picked up the game in the Army Public School in Delhi. Thereafter, he joined the City Football Club for whom he played the Durand Cup in the 2001-02 season. Although his team did not progress much, Sunil played all the games and also scored a goal, which saw him get his first big break with the legendary Mohun Bagan Club of Kolkata.

The rest, as they say, is history. Sunil finally also won his first and only Durand Cup title till date, when he picked up the glittering Durand trophies in its 131st edition in Kolkata at the same VYBK venue.

The Army had planned and celebrated the whole occasion in a manner befitting a legend. A combined pipe band of 14th and 15th Battalions of the Bihar regiment of the Indian Army played the welcome tribute segment to Sunil Chhetri. The 2.5min tune was composed by Bir Nepali. Then when Sunil finally exited the stadium, he was escorted out by two bagpipers playing a tune by Auld Lang Syne.

The memento was in the form of a trophy, resembling the number 11 Chhetri Jersey in a celebratory pose. It is inspired by the career of Sunil who carried the hopes of the tri-colour for 19 years on his shoulders. The number 11 and Chhetri in the Indian jersey blue shall be ingrained in Indian football history celebrating him.

The Eastern Command, under the aegis of the Durand Football Tournament Society (DFTS) which is overseen by the Chief of Defence Staff as its President and the three Service Chiefs as its Vice Presidents, organises the famous Durand Cup, Asia’s oldest football tournament. (ANI)