Former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia on Saturday hailed Viswanathan Anand's feat of winning five world championships and said the king of chess along with Leander Paes and Sachin Tendulkar are the deserving candidates for Bharat Ratna.
"We have very very few world champion. It's not easy to become one and Anand has done it five times. It's really a great, great achievement. He is an icon for all the chess players," Bhutia said.
"It's not (up to) me to decide to confer Bharat Ratna on him. But his success would not be any less if it is not given. There is Sachin Tendulkar, and Leander Paes who also deserves it having won the Grand Slam for 13 times (Paes)."
Asked to comment on Wim Koevermans, who is all set to become the Indian football coach, Bhutia said it's important to give enough time to the former Dutch International.
"We have got a high profile coach who has played at the highest level. It's important that the AIFF gives him enough time and supports him.
"I've always said if Indian football has to advance the national team has to do well. For that the clubs also need to supply quality, talented footballers to support the coach."
On whether Indian football was going through a tough phase with experienced players like Climax Lawrence and Mahesh Gawli in their 30s, Bhutia said it was not a worrying sign.
"It happens with every team. They are all senior players who can still play for some more time," he said.
On the domestic front, Bhutia's own club United Sikkim will play in its maiden I-League after making the cut from the second division and the Sikkimese sniper said surviving in the league would be the biggest challenge in its first outing.
"It's a very very young and inexperienced side. Surviving in the I-League would be the biggest challenge. But we have given full freedom to our coach Philippe de Ridder and we hope to spring a few surprises."
Bhutia picked defending champions Spain and Germany as the favourites while England are his darkhorses in the upcoming Euro 2012 beginning on June 8.
"I want to see Germany doing well. They are one of the teams along with Spain who are the favourites," he said after being announced as a brand ambassador of the Shyam Group here.
Citing example of Chelsea's win in Champions League, Bhutia said: "You never know what happens in knock-out stage. England too are a good side with a good manager (Roy Hodgson). There can be surprises though."