Baichung up close on home turf

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India's soccer star Baichung Bhutia is spending some time in his remote village after his tour of the English Club League.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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Ravlana, Sikkim:

The World Cup is just days away and India's top footballer will be making his debut during the tournament, not as a player but as a TV commentator. Currently, Baichung Bhutia is relaxing at home in Sikkim. The village near Ravlanca is tucked away in the remote foothills of the Himalayas. “It's always good to be back home. It's beautiful, as that rural part of you, that remote part of you is still there and that's what you like about it,” remarked Bhutia. The path to becoming India's top footballer was not easy and Baichung says the English weather has made him more mature. “It was good for me. I think it makes you more experienced as a person, it gives you more ideas of football. It worked well for me”. At 25, Baichung is planning to return home after his contract with Bury FC expires in July and he is waiting for offers. “Most of the strikers are playing well at 29,30,31 years of age. So I still have time. I'll be looking forward to that, coming back to India in August. I want to play the game well and enjoy it,” said the keen sportsperson. Contrary to reports that football playing clubs are not doing too well financially, Baichung feels players are being taken care of. “If you look into the Indian financial status, the amount of money players are getting here in the country is alright. There's a good chance of football doing well. It needs a slight change in management and marketing but it'll change,” felt the optimistic lad. At the end of the month, Baichung will leave for Dubai to join as an expert for the World Cup coverage. “It's the first time I would be doing this kind of a thing. I'm really happy about it”. And even before he's there, he seems sure of his favourites. “Argentina, France and Italy will do well because of the group they are in. Thierry Henry could be a big star, Ronaldinho of Brazil could come out good.” Baichung will spend a few days in the hills with his family and friends before he starts considering fresh offers.

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