(Last Updated on : 26-12-2018)
Born on December 15th, 1976 in the remote Tinkitam
village of Sikkim
, Bhaichung Bhutia is considered to be the torchbearer of Indian football
in the international arena. Currently retired, Bhaichung Bhutia played as a striker and had 4 spells at I-League
football team East Bengal Club
, the club where he started his career. He belongs to the Bhutia community
with Dorji Dorma and Sonam Topden as his parents. To honour his legacy, the Sikkimese
government built a stadium, the Bhaichung Stadium
, the district headquarters. He is also known to be Indias second youngest international goal scorer after Jerry Zirsanga when he scored his first goal against Uzbekistan in 1995 Nehru cup at the age of only 18 years.
Early life of Bhaichung Bhutia
Bhaichung Bhutia went to St. Xaviers School Pakyoung, East Sikkim and won the Sports Authority of India
(SAI) Scholarship to attend the Tashi Namgyal Academy in Gangtok
at the age of 9 years. He was noticed and came to the limelight with his performance at the 1992 Subroto Cup
held in Delhi
. There he won the 'Best Player Award'. Bhaskar Ganguly was impressed with his performance and helped him to make it to the Calcutta football arena.
Personal Life of Bhaichung Bhutia
Baichung Bhutia married his long time girlfriend Madhuri Tipnis on December 27th, 2004 in his native village of Tinkitam in South Sikkim. On February, 2015, they filed for divorce by mutual consent in a Bandra Court.
Football Career of Bhaichung Bhutia
At the age of 16 in the year 1993 Bhaichung joined the professional East Bengal Club in Kolkata
. In 1995 he joined the JCT Mills, Phagwara and brought the trophy of the India National Football League that year. Being the top scorer in the League he was chosen to play for the Nehru Cup. In 1996 along with many awards he was named as the '1996 Indian Player of the Year'.
He returned to East Bengal in 1997, and became team captain in the 1998-99 seasons. In the Semi Final match of the Federation Cup Football 1997 played between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan
, Bhaichung scored a hat trick and led East Bengal win the match by 4-1. That year itself Bhaichung Bhutia won the award of 'highest scorer' ever in any match of the National Football League. Bhutia has also played at the international level.
International Career for Bhaichung Bhutia
Bhaichug Bhutia made his international debut for India against Uzbekistan in the Nehru Cup in 1995 at the age of 19 years. He also played for SAAF Championship in the years 1997, 2005 and 2008 and won the awards of 'Most Valuable Player' and 'Fair Play Trophy' in 2005. In 1999 he travelled overseas to play for Bury F.C. in Great Manchester, England signing a three-year contract and became the first Indian footballer
to play professionally in Europe. Bhutia has also performed in the LG Cup in 2002 in Vietnam and Afro-Asian Cup in 2003. He also signed up to play for Perak, the Malaysian championship club, from August to October of 2003. His commendable performance in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup against Turkmenistan reserved his position in the upcoming 2011 AFC Asian Cup. Of all the achievements, the greatest achievements for Bhaichung Bhutia in his entire football career happened when India won the Nehru Cup, 2007, under his captaincy. The Indian team played extremely well throughout the tournament and beat the teams like Syria, Kyrgyzstan, and Cambodia etc. The Nehru Cup of 2009 also proved significant for Bhutia as he earned his 100th cap for India over Kyrgyzstan, becoming the first Indian player to reach this milestone. Apart from winning the Nehru Cup
under his captaincy, Bhaichung Bhutia has also played for the 'Edu' team in the 'Goal 4 Africa charity match between two all-star international teams in July, 2008.
Bhaichung Bhutia's Return in Indian Football
In 2002 Bhutia returned to India and played for the Mohun Bagan Athletic Club
for a year before returning again to the East Bengal Club, and won the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Cup 2003. He won the 'Man of the Match' award and was also the top scorer of the Championship with 9 goals.
Retirement of Bhaichung Bhutia
Bhaichung Bhutia retired from international level football on January 2012. His last outing for India was against the German club named Bayern Munich. Though India lost the match, but he impressed all by his talent. He is now engaged to play for his club United Sikkim Football Club which he founded.
Awards and Honours to Bhaichung Bhutia
For his commendable performance in the field of football, Bhutia has been bestowed upon the Indian Player of the Year award twice in the years 1995 and 2008. He has also been awarded the Sikkim
State Award and the Arjuna Award
. In the year 2008, he has been honoured with the Padma Shree Award
. In the year 2014, he received Banga Bhushan Award, a title instituted by the West Bengal
Other Careers of Bhaichung Bhutia
In 2009, Bhaichung partnering with choreographer Sonia Jaffer participated in the third season of the Indian reality television show
Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa and won that season beating Karan Singh Grover
and Gauhar Khan
in the final. Later in 2014, Bhaichung also tried his hand in politics when he joined the Trinamool Congress
and contested in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from the Darjeeling constituency.