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Indian Football: Relieving 5 best moments of Baichung Bhutia's career

Bhaichung Bhutia encouraged a whole generation to take up the sport of football and remains a household name.

Indian Football: Relieving 5 best moments of Baichung Bhutias career

Image via NewsByte


Soumik Banerjee

Updated: 15 Dec 2021 11:26 AM GMT

Whenever someone thinks about football in India, the first name that comes into his mind is Baichung Bhutia. Throughout the years, Indian International became an icon of Indian football. Three-time Indian player of the year, Baichung became one of the few Indian footballers who made the game popular in India. He encouraged a whole generation to take up the sport and remains a household name.

Baichung has broken many records throughout his outstanding career and has been part of great footballing moments. On his 45th birthday, The Bridge looks at the 5 best moments of Baichung Bhutia's illustrious career.

First Indian Player to play professional football in England

Baichung Bhutia, a true legend of Indian football has many records in his bag. The Indian international became the first Indian player to sign a professional contract with a European team when he signed a 3-year contract with Bury.

On 3rd October 1999, he made his debut against Cardiff City. The striker scored his first goal in English League against Chesterfield on 15 April 2000. Although various injuries limited his career in Bury, his move to the English Football League was one of the most significant moments of Indian football.

MVP of AFC Challenge Cup

In 2008 Bhutia led the Indian team to win the AFC Challenge Cup. He scored a brace in the final match of the group stage against Turkmenistan, helping the Indian team to reach the semi-finals. Bhutia scored his third goal of the tournament in the final against Tajikistan a 4-1 win for the Indian team.

The victory assured the Indian team's automatic qualification for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. Bhutia was adjudged as the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

Becoming the youngest Indian International goalscorer

Known as a prodigy when he was a teenager, Baichung made his debut for the Indian National team against Thailand at the age of 19 on March 10 1995. Bhutia scored his first goal in the same tournament against Uzbekistan and became the youngest Indian International goalscorer. This record was later broken by Jerry Zirsanga.

Heroics in the ASEAN Cup

In 2003, Bhutia signed for the defending National Football League Champions, East Bengal. The Indian striker who was in red hot form helped the Red and Gold Brigade lift the ASEAN Club Championship.

He scored a golden in the final against BEC Tero Sasana and was named the man of the match. The Sikkimese Sniper scored 9 goals in the tournament including a hattrick against Philippine Army and won the golden boot.

Scoring hattrick in the famous Kolkata derby

In 1997, Bhutia returned to East Bengal for his second stint at the club. He helped East Bengal to reach the semi-finals of the Federation Cup where they were bound to play their arch-rivals, Mohun Bagan. The mariners were coming from a 6-0 win against Churchill Brothers and were brimming with confidence. The highly anticipated derby drew over a record 1,31,000 supporters to the stadium.

Baichung, known for his big-game performances scored a stunning hattrick and destroyed the famous diamond formation of Amal Dutta. Baichung remains the only East Bengal player to have a hattrick in the Kolkata derby behind his name.

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