India's most successful player in football announced his retirement on Wednesday after 16 years. Here is a list of some of his biggest contributions and achievements in Indian football.
- In a country obsessed with cricket, Bhaichung Bhutia is perhaps the only footballer to have carved a niche for himself among sport-lovers. (Also see: Bhutia's journey to greatness)
- Former India coach Bob Houghton of England even compared him to one of cricket's biggest stars, Sachin Tendulkar. (Also Read: Back home, Sikkim gets emotional about Bhaichung)
- The lone Indian and one of few international footballers to have played more than 100 matches for his country. Bhutia donned the national jersey 107 times.Â Â
- He is India's highest scorer with 42 international goals.
- First Indian in post-independence era to ply his trade in Europe, where he played for English Div II side FC Bury from 1999 to 2002. He led the way for other Indian footballers to follow suit with his younger strike partner Sunil Chhetri thereafter playing for US MLS side Kansas City Wizards, while the likes of Subrata Paul, Gouramangi Singh, Anwar Ali and Steven Dias appeared for trials for clubs abroad.
- He's been the global face of Indian football, having rubbed shoulders with the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Michael Ballack, Fabio Cannavaro, etc in the 'Goal 4 Africa' charity fund raiser in Africa in 2008.
- He was one of the nominees for 2008's Best Asian Player by Arabic magazine 'Super'.
- He's an Arjuna Awardee ('98) & Padma Shri ('08)
- Bhaichung led India to the SAFF Championships thrice, two Nehru Cup titles (2007 & 2009) and 2008 AFC Challenge Cup which gave India the right to play in the Asian Cup this year for the first time since 1984.