Bhaichung Bhutia retires from international football

August 24th, 2011 - 3:39 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) Former Indian captain Bhaichung Bhutia has ended his 16-year-old stellar international career regretting that he could not play in the World Cup.

Bhaichung, who will be playing in the domestic circuit for his team United Sikkim, said the last six-seven months have been frustrating due to injuries and it was time for him to call it a day.

“I wanted to retire after the AFC Challenge Cup (2008), but since we won the tournament and qualified for the Asian Cup, I thought it would be the perfect stage for me to end my international career.

“But I could play just 15 minutes in the last game of Asian Cup and I felt it was not the right way to end my career. Since then it has been frustrating as every time I tried to play for United Sikkim I injured myself. I could play just 4-5 matches for my team and now when the national call came for the tour to England I am again injured. So I thought it was time for me to retire,” Bhaichung told reporters here Tuesday.

“I always wanted to retire while playing but sometimes things don’t go your way,” he said.

“Every player dreams to play W World Cup but realities are different. I still hope that India qualifies for World Cup and I could go and watch my country playing.”

The 34-year-old, who hails from Nemchi, Sikkim, began his club career with East Bengal in 1993 and two years later made his international debut against Thailand in Kolkata in 1995.

Besides East Bengal, the livewire forward played for JCT, and captained Mohun Bagan. He also became the first Indian player to appear for English professional club Bury FC and played for Malaysian Club Perak FC.

He has 107 international caps and scored 42 goals. At club level he has scored 228 goals.

He has led the Indian team since 1999 till the 2011 Asian Cup.

“My last three years have been great. We won three titles which include two Nehru Cups (2007,2009) and AFC Challenge Cup (2008). In two of these tournaments I was the most valuable player.”

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