New Delhi: It was a grand farewell for India's iconic footballer Bhaichung Bhutia, though it was Bayern Munich who stole the show making it look too easy by pumping four goals at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium on Tuesday.
The 30,000 fans didn't bother too much about the number of goals scored, they relished how the Bavarians got them. For India, every minute was a learning experience of what European football is all about.
It was an electrifying atmosphere at the stadium. Scenes were reminiscent of a chilly January evening in 1991 when high-flying Dutch club PSV Eidenhoven thrashed India 7-0 at the packed Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.
This time the showpiece stadium of the Commonwealth Games was half-filled but enough to create a deafening noise for the Indian team.
Three years back, a packed Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata gave a grand farewell to legendary German and Bayern goalkeeper Oliver Kahn -- and it was Delhi's turn Tuesday to honour Bhutia, who remained a crowd puller during an era when Indian football was in a sorry state.
Emotions ran high among fans, when Bhutia, who retired last August after being frustrated with a spate of injuries, posed for the photographers with Bayern captain Phillip Lahm with a Bayern jersey that had the Indian's name on it.
Fans went wild every time Bhutia touched the ball. Though it was a one-way traffic but for Indian fans it was surely a double delight. Bayern, who are on their third trip to India, have come with their best team, and the grand farewell for Bhutia was something unheard of in the past in Indian sports. Bhutia was also honoured with an Audi Q8.
The star-studded Bayern Munich team started with some of the top European stars - Thomas Mueller, Arjen Robben, Mario Gomez, Phillip Lahm, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Bastian Schwiensteiger and goalkeeper Manuel Neur. It was surely a starry show but stolen by none other than home-boy Bhutia.
Bhutia was well marked by Jerome Boateng and every time the Indian skipper tried to dodge him the fans cheered lustily. Bhutia even managed to get past Boateng and had just Neur to beat but it showed that age was surely not on his side.
As predicted, it didn't take long for the Bavarians to find the net, with Gomez finding the first of the many goals in the 14th minute. But win or lose, the result will hardly have any impact - given the vast difference in football between the two teams. It was surely a learning experience for the Indian team that will stand in good stead in the years to come.
The journey that started from a sleepy hamlet in Tinkitam in Sikkim in 1993 finally ended and even in his last match Bhutia contributed for a noble cause ensuring that some of the proceeds from the match will be given to the earthquake victims of his home state.
As it happened: