Kolkata:India captain Bhaichung Bhutia on Monday 'signed' a year's contract with East Bengal and vowed to play for the club till he hangs his boot, even as he is yet to be released by Mohun Bagan.
Engaged in a row with Bagan which has suspended the star striker for six months without pay, Bhutia termed this as an "ultimate signing" and said even if he could not play in the upcoming season because of the suspension, he would play for the East Bengal for rest of the years.
Though signed for the 2009-10 season, he said: "This is not for one month or two months... This will be for my entire football career whether I play or not play this year but for rest of my football career I will be an East Bengal player."
Describing the rapturous reception as the best ever after East Bengal's ASEAN Cup victory in 2003, Bhutia said, "This is the second time this kind of reception I'm getting for East Bengal. I am very happy.... I have full confidence that I will be playing for East Bengal from Day one."
Terming this as a home coming, Bhutia, who began his football career playing for East Bengal, said, "I started playing from here... and I will end my career from here," as the East Bengal supporters kept on shouting "Three Cheers for Bhaichung... Welcome back Bhaichung."
Bhutia, who was awarded the "Player of the National Football League" in the 2005-06 season when East Bengal finished runners up in the league, said he would give his best to bring the glorious days back.
"As a player, we will give our 110 per cent to see that East Bengal's great days return. I am really looking forward to play for East Bengal," he said.
Requesting the East Bengal supporters to come forward and cheer the side in both good and bad times, he added, "I wish, you turn up like this way whenever we play matches and support us. We as a team has to play well. The entire team needs your positive support."
Having sought IFA's help to get a release from Mohun Bagan, Bhutia said a few Bagan officials were trying to "destroy" his football career.
"Problems will be there everywhere around the world. I had some problems even with East Bengal earlier. Wherever you are, be it in Manchester United or Arsenal, there will be problems. But the main thing is the way you solve them. That's the great character of East Bengal and their officials," he said.
"I don't think any of the officials of East Bengal will go all out (unlike Mohun Bagan) to destroy the career of somebody and that's the quality of East Bengal. That's the difference between the two clubs," he said.
"I have given my 17 years for the country, played for so many clubs yet they (Bagan) come out with a six-month suspension without pay to destroy my career," Bhutia said.
"I am taking up a cause and I will keep fighting for my cause. I have faith in IFA and AIFF," Bhutia, who is leaving for Dubai on Thursday for the national camp to be held from June 25 to July 7.
Suspended by the Bagan executive committee on June 8, Bhutia, engaged in a three-year contract till 2010 with the club, declared a war against the club and threatened to sit out rather than playing under a couple of "egoistic, publicity hungry" officials.
Before that, the star footballer on May 14 was showcaused by Bagan general secretary Anjan Mitra who alleged that Bhutia was too occupied with activities like TV shows and was not committed to the cause of the club, a key reason behind the club's failure to win the I-League.
Bhutia however said when he was sent the letter, he had by then completed two and half months with the dance programme for which he had taken permission.
"It all started when I skipped an exhibition match in Jalpaiguri," he said.
Challenging the suspension, Bhutia requested the IFA to step in and solve the matter. The IFA will form a panel on June 29 to settle the issue.