Baichung Bhutia

DOB: 15.12.1976
National Jersey #: 15
Club Jersey #: 15
Nickname: - Bhai
Playing Position: Striker
Current I-league Club: East Bengal
Other Club/s: JCT, Mohan Bagan AC, Perak FA, Bury FC, Selangor MK Land
Height - Weight: 5ft 8in - 73kg

Profile

India’s most decorated footballer, Bhaichung Bhutia, has seen it and done it all. He started impressing from a very young age, making his debut for East Bengal at the age of sixteen. Bhai has he known, was then transferred to JCT where he won the national league in 1996-97 having top scored in the league. He was named the “Indian footballer of the year” in 1996. He debuted for the national team in the 1995 Nehru Cup and become the youngest goal scorer at 19. Bhutia, first captained the national side 1998-99 and since then been the torchbearer of football in India. His glittering career boasts of 42 goals in just over 100 appearances for the country. In the year 1999, Bhutia won the prestigious Arjuna Award given by the Government of India for exceptional performances in the field of football.

In the same year, the Sikkimese forward ventured overseas to play for Bury FC in Greater Manchester. He also gave trials, for clubs like West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Fulham. His spell at Bury FC was marred by recurring knee injuries which eventually lead to his release in 2002, as the club went into administration. The Indian captain then returned to play for Mohun Bagan, before signing for East Bengal the following year. At East Bengal he guided his team to the ASEAN Cup in 2003 having scored the winner in the final which bagged him the ‘Man of the Match’ award. Throughout his career, Bhutia has top scored in many national championship campaigns. In 2008, he was felicitated with the Padma Shri award by the Government of India for his contribution to football in India.

Outside football, he is one of the rare players to have endorsement deals with big sports brands. In 2009, he participated in the dance show”Jalak Dikhhla Ja” and won the competition. His participation in the show resulted in a strained relationship with his club Mohun Bagan. At 32, Bhutia is now with his beloved club East Bengal and is looking to end his football journey there. From humble beginnings in Sikkim, Baichung Bhutia has become the most recognizable name in Indian football.
- Mayur Desai


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