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Baichung Bhutia

Baichung Bhutia
Personal information
Full nameBaichung Bhutia
Date of birth15 December 1976(age 39)
Place of birthTinkitam, Sikkim, India
Height1.73 m
Playing positionStriker
Club information
Current clubUnited Sikkim

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Baichung Bhutia ( ) (born 15 December 1976) is an ex Indian footballer. He is currently contracted by the club he owns, United Sikkim. He is considered to be the torchbearer of Indian football in the international arena. He plays for United Sikkim FC. He is often nicknamed the Sikkimese Sniper because of his shooting skills in football. Three-time Indian Player of the Year I. M. Vijayan described Bhutia as "God's gift to Indian football".

Bhutia has had four spells at I-League football team East Bengal Club, the club where he started his career. When he signed up to play for the English club Bury F.C. in 1999 he became the first Indian footballer to play professional football in Europe. Afterwards he had a short loan spell at the Malaysian football club Perak FA. As well as this he has played for JCT Mills, which won the league once during his tenure; and Mohun Bagan, which failed to win the league once during his two spells, in his native India. His international footballing honours include winning the Nehru Cup, LG Cup, South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship (three times) and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup. He is also India's most capped player, and in the 2009 Nehru Cup he received his 100th international cap.

Off the field, Bhutia is known for winning the reality television programme Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, which caused much controversy with his then-club Mohun Bagan, and for being the first Indian athlete to boycott the Olympic torch relay in support of the Tibetan independence movement. Bhutia, who has a football stadium named after him in honour of his contribution to Indian football (first player to have such honour while he is still playing), has also won many awards such as the Arjuna Award and the Padma Shri.

On 28 October 2010 he started Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools in Delhi in partnership with Football by Carlos Queiroz and Nike, Inc

On 24 August, 2011 he announced his retirement from international football.

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