Inspirational former captain and Indian football's poster boy for major part of the last two decades, Baichung Bhutia today announced his international retirement, drawing curtains on an illustrious 16-year career, after battling a recurrent calf muscle injury.
The 34-year-old, known as the 'Sikkimese Sniper' for his shooting skills, announced his decision at a press meet at the All India Football Federation headquarters here.
"I had fantastic 16 years of international football. I enjoyed every moment to have represented the country, to have contributed to the game," Baichung said.
Speculation had been rife on the imminent retirement of the talismanic striker, who pulled out of India Under-23 side's tour of England where they will play against Pakistan and England Under-23 next month.
He was struggling with injuries in the past one year and could play for just 15 minutes in the Asian Cup in Qatar in January, the most prestigious event India has ever taken part in the last 27 years.
"Winning the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008, to qualify for the Asian Cup were the best moments of my career and I thought of retiring after playing in that tournament," he said.
"But I could play only 15 minutes in the Asian Cup and I thought it was not the right way to retire. I wanted to continue playing but the last 7-8 months have been frustrating due to lot of injuries. So I have decided to quit," he added.
He was dropped from the Indian squad selected for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and the preparatory matches but named in the Under-23 team for the England tour.
Baichung, however, will continue to play for his club United Sikkim FC which he founded.
"Lots of things in life do not happen the way we wish so I am quitting from international football but will continue playing for my club," he said.
"My commitment and contribution to Indian football will not diminish and I am ready to help the AIFF in whatever way they want me," he said.
Baichung Bids Goodbye to International Football
THE LATEST ISSUE
- ‘I Hope And Wish And Pray Bihar Doesn’t Throw Up A Khichdi Sarkar’
- MI Vs KXIP: Gayle Bosses Over Mumbai In Super Super Over Win
- People Were Unhappy When BJP Could Not Return To Power: Shivraj Singh Chouhan
- Will It Be Nitish Kumar For The Fourth Time? Or Are There Cracks In His Citadel?
- Deity, Donations And Divine Intervention
- Why Jofra Archer, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje Making IPL A Connoisseur’s Delight
- Chennai Super Kings' Belief In Shane Watson Surreal, But That's What MS Dhoni Is All About!
- IPL 2020: KL Rahul’s Record Century, Yuzvendra Chahal’s Clever Bowling Highlights Of Week 1
- IPL 2020: Emergence Of The Team Psychologist And T20 Spinner
- IPL 2020: Expect Run Outs, Batting Collapses And Run Freeze In Initial Matches In UAE
- Woman Scribes' Rift Over Rhea Chakraborty Exposes TV-Print Divide
- Crazy Sunday Witnesses Double Super Over - Explainer, Videos, Reactions
- SRH Vs KKR: Ferguson Sets Up Super Over Win For Kolkata
- Unplugged: 4 Ghost Stories, And The Crows
- Pollution May Increase Virus Transmissibility: Experts
- Whiskey Or Whisky – What's The Difference?
- Tourists Skip Shimla Hotels For Rural Homestays
- Cowherd's Son In Tamil Nadu Clears NEET, Seeks Financial Help To Study
- Time To Liberate Aksai Chin, Gilgit Baltistan, Says Kashmir BJP Chief