Baichung Bhutia: Indian Football's Pride!

Michelle AlvesSenior Writer IOctober 10, 2008

Who is Baichung Bhutia?

Baichung Bhutia. A nobody? Definitely not. One of the most acknowledged names in Indian football, he is also the captain of the Indian football team.

How it all began

In the beginning, his parents from Sikkim were apprehensive and believed Bhutia's interest in football would damage his focus on studies, but they gave in when he got a football scholarship at the age of nine from the Sports Authority of India.

He was thrown into the public eye by a first-rate performance in the 1992 Subroto Cup. He was then signed by East Bengal at the age of 16. Two years later, he moved to JCT and won his first Indian football League ever.

Only a year after that, he was named Indian Player of the year. By then, it was obvious he would go on to do something great. Bhutia was the youngest goal scorer for India.

Bhutia is now Indian football's pride and joy.

Going International

In 1999, Baichung traveled abroad to try out for Fulham and Aston Villa but didn't make the cut.

"It has all been getting quite crowded on the front line," an Aston Villa player said, when asked about why Bhutia did not make it. "Baichung played very well here, but Gregory chose to go for the names," he said. He also stated that for playing performance, Baichung was "close" to the standards of the other forwards.

When inquired about how it felt to play an exhibition match against Manchester United, he said, “"It was a dream come true for me to play against David Beckham and Andy Cole, who have been my heroes for years."

Returning back to India

In 2002, Bhutia returned back to India to play for Mohun Bagan. He had a stadium named after him in Namchi. He is one of the most admired individuals in the country and is deemed a role model to countless.

His Personal Life and Beliefs!

Bhutia has a number of favourite players, such as Thierry Henry and Ronaldino. He supports Arsenal and Barcelona.

Speaking about religion and beliefs, Bhutia said, “My being an atheist is more a matter of chance. I have been away from my family ever since I was a child. Usually, it is the family that teaches a child about religion.

"In my case, however, it didn't happen like that. I studied in a boarding school and took up professional football when I was 15. My wife and I don't follow any religion. We intend to remain so even in the future because we think religion only divides people”

The Olympic Torch

In 2008, Bhutia was requested to run with the Olympic torch in India, but he declined to carry the torch to show support for the Tibetan independence movement. Bhutia comes from Sikkim, which borders China. "I sympathise with the Tibetan cause. I'm against violence, but I thought I should stand by the Tibetan people in their fight," Bhutia said.

He was the first sportsman to refuse carrying the Olympic torch. His actions have earned him admiration and approval from the Tibetan community and its followers in India

Speaking about the future of Indian Football

Also India’s highest paid footballer, Bhutia still feels life of a footballer India is very limited. He feels that India has immensely talented players, but the training standards have to be bettered, and I have to say that I fully agree with him.

Bhutia sees the future for Indian football to be very bright, and doesn’t everyone?

This national team has been better than ever, and with a captain like Bhutia, there is no doubt that over the years, there’s bound to be much more improvement. Normally known as the cricket country, things are turning around for India!

Beginning as a small boy, with a big dream, Bhutia’s passion and determination brought him a long way, but he’s not the only one!

Many youngsters are pursuing their love for football in hopes of bringing India to the FIFA World Cup. It all begins with the dream. Why limit ourselves to cricket when, with the second-largest population in the world, we also have a huge amount of talent?

Here’s me signing off with a quote...Hoping and dreaming of a World Cup with India’s name on it!

“This could be the start of something...”


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