Friends indeed: When Sunil Chhetri sounded out Virat Kohli before retirement announcement

PTI, May 17, 2024, 5:44 PM IST

Sunil Chhetri and Virat Kohli (Image source: X)

Bengaluru: As Sunil Chhetri sat contemplating how he would break his retirement plans to the world, he knew there was one man who would understand what exactly he was going through and Virat Kohli did not disappoint the iconic Indian football captain.

The 39-year-old Chhetri, the most capped India footballer with 150 matches to his credit and the country’s top-scorer with 94 goals, will hang up his boots after the World Cup qualifying match against Kuwait on June 6 in Kolkata.

Sunil Chhetri and Virat Kohli
Chhetri’s announcement came on Thursday, driven by, what he described as, rather inexplicable instincts. And he chose Kohli as one of his confidantes before going public with his decision.

“I did talk to Virat Kohli before my retirement decision, he is very close to me. I discussed with him because we both understand that we would know this thing exactly the way it is,” Chhetri said in an online media interaction from Bhubaneswar where he is currently part of a national camp for the World Cup qualifiers.

“The ups and downs of sports, this part of retirement, we do understand that the other person would understand,” he added, trying to describe in words the deep bond they have shared over the years.

Earlier on Friday, Kohli had acknowledged the communication from Chhetri and stated that his fellow Delhiite was at peace with the decision.

“He (Chhetri) is a really great player. He actually messaged me as well informing that he’s going to do that. But I would actually say I felt like he is at peace with the decision,” Kohli said in a short video interview on his IPL side Royal Challengers Benagluru’s ‘X’ page.

“I have become very close with him over the years and I wish the best. He is a lovely, lovely guy.”

Chhetri and Kohli have often spoken about each other fondly with the former stating that they share jokes and also some deep and meaningful chats whenever they catch up. “…it just hits the right note,” Chhetri had stated in an earlier interaction.

Kohli was among the first to offer support to Chhetri when he made an emotional plea to fans to show up for the national footballers during the 2018 Hero Cup in Mumbai. Kohli later described Chhetri as “a man I can call a true friend.Very grateful for the friendship we have skip,” he had stated on Chhetri’s birthday in 2022.

Vamika has started batting: Kohli

Kohli, besides talking about Chhetri, also informed that his daughter Vamika has recently started swinging the bat but said he would never force his kids to take up cricket.

Kohli and his actor wife Anushka Sharma recently also welcomed a son, Akaay after the birth of Vamika in 2021. “My daughter picked up a bat and she is really enjoying swinging the bat. But it’s their choice,” he said.

RCB are currently placed sixth in the IPL standings with 12 points from 13 games and will take on defending champions Chennai Super Kings in a must-win match here on Friday.

RCB made a remarkable comeback with five straight wins after enduring a six-game losing streak to stay afloat in the play-off race.

“The month of May has been very good. We found a ray of sunlight. We are glad that we have made the fans happy again,” Kohli said of their fightback.

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