Former footballers pay rich tribute to Bhaichung, the pranksterAugust 24th, 2011 - 9:19 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) Former footballers paid rich tribute to India’s iconic star and long serving captain Bhaichung Bhutia who ended his 16-year-long glittering international career here Wednesday.
His three team mates I.M. Vijayan, Jo Paul Ancehri and Renedy Singh called him a prankster while former coach Sukhwinder Singh said Bhutia’s commitment to the game was an example for the next generation of Indian footballers.
Vijayan, undoubtedly the best alongside Bhutia, had famously remarked that the 34-year-old from Sikkim was god’s gift to Indian football.
With Vijayan, Bhutia formed the most potent attack in Indian football both at the club-level (East Bengal, JCT) and with the national team.
“Players like Bhaichung come once in 50 years. It will be impossible to replace a player like him. We have to wait for another generation to get a player like Bhaichung. We had a great time playing for JCT and the national team,” Vijayan told IANS from Kochi.
Asked what was the key to their success as striking partners, Vijayan said: “We were never jealous of each other. We always gave passes to each other and played selflessly. He always enjoyed my company and when I was the captain I always allowed him to play freely.”
Ancheri recalled the days when he along with Vijayan, Bhaichung, Renedy and Ajay Singh reported for practice late in the national camp under Uzbek coach Rustam Akramov.
“We were a close knit group of five footballers. We stayed in the same room and always went to sleep late and were never on time for practice. Bhaichung, however, was honest during training sessions. He has scored some fascinating goals and some from great angles. What made him a great striker was that he knew the art of scoring goals and that’s what matters in football,” said Ancheri.
Renedy, who has played the longest with Bhaichung, said his former captain was as clever as a fox inside the box.
“I have known him since his early days when I was a cadet at TFA (Tata Football Academy) and he was playing for Tashi Namgyal. He is very serious player on the field but a complete prankster off field. We had some great times playing for the national team and club. He is a great leader and never deterred from going for a one-on-one challenge,” he said.
Sukhwinder, who coached Bhaichung, both in JCT and the national team, was impressed with his commitment and professionalism.
“I approached him to join JCT in 1995 during Durand Cup. But he told me ‘I want to play one more year for East Bengal since they made what I am today’. I was impressed with his commitment and next year in 1996 he joined us. It was a great team and we won the first National Football League in 1996. Even when I was the national coach I found that he was a great leader. He could inspire the whole team with his performance. There was a thin line that made the difference between Bhaichung and Vijayan,” he said.
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- Bhaichung Bhutia: A fairytale journey (Profile) - Aug 24, 2011
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- Local boy Nim Tshering Lepcha to lead United Sikkim - Jul 13, 2011
- Bhaichung to continue playing for United Sikkim FC - May 15, 2011
- Training without Bhaichung feels different: Chettri - Jun 18, 2011
- Its time to move on, says Bhaichung - Jan 09, 2012
- Bhaichung, Renedy among 32 probables for Pakistan friendlies - Jul 20, 2011
- Bhutia has no hard feelings over Nayeemuddin's 'misunderstanding' - Aug 25, 2011
- Nobody can replace Bhaichung, says Gouramangi - Jan 07, 2012
- Climax and Mahesh retired early, says Baichung - Feb 25, 2012
- In another flip-flop, AFC re-registers Bhutia in Asian Cup team (Intro Roundup) - Jan 08, 2011
Tags: ajay singh, angles, bhaichung bhutia, east bengal, former coach, fox, great time, indian football, international career, jct, New Delhi, next generation, prankster, rich tribute, scoring goals, sessions, sleep, striker, team mates, vijayan