Bhaichung Bhutia, who reignited the spark of football in India has his own team off-field who pushed him to earn the privilege of being called the ‘Sikkimese Sniper’. And there’s no doubt that he stood up to this title.
Following the footsteps of his idol and the former Indian football captain I M Vijayan, Bhaichung made his way to the Hall of Fame. It was Vijayan who inspired him to wear his studs and step on the field to make a difference. The golden words “God’s gift to Indian football” by Vijayan accurately depict Bhutia’s impact on the sport. Bhutia now knows him well, on and off the pitch and the two share a great friendship and mutual respect.
Bhaichung also grew up adoring another Indian footballer Krishanu Dey, who was given the name of "Indian Maradona" among his fans due to his dribbling skills back then.
What further paved the way for his career was the efforts put in by Manas Chakraborty, Bhutia’s first coach from school who, along with the help of his friends, trained the youngster during the winter break. All their efforts were to make sure that Bhaichung is well prepared for the coming local tournaments. Exhibiting his talent at the right platform could potentially provide him with the much-needed spotlight.
Bhutia’s life turned for better when two former India stars, Bhaskar Ganguly and Surojit Sengupta, spotted him and offered him a chance to play in Kolkata, that too when he was just 16. Their words of appreciation for Bhaichung reached the ears of Shyamal Ghosh who at the time was the coach of East Bengal. A few weeks later, Bhutia was on trial at one of Kolkata's biggest clubs.
It wasn't always a walk in the park for Bhaichung. He was on the verge of international retirement in 2006 after India’s string of poor results, only to change his mind thanks to a plea by his new coach, Bob Houghton. What happened after 2006 is not a mystery. In fact, it’s written all across the record books.
It is rightly said that the story of many, creates the story of one. That's the power of human potential multiplied