Indian Football

Bhaichung Bhutia: 4 interesting facts about India's first footballing superstar

Arjun Singh Devgan
Bhaichung Bhutia was India's first footballing superstar
Bhaichung Bhutia was India's first footballing superstar / PRAKASH SINGH/GettyImages
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Bhaichung Bhutia was the first footballing superstar to come from India and is regarded as a symbol of the rise of the sport in the country with another legend in I.M Vijayan famously calling him, "God's gift to Indian football".

Here, we take a look at some interesting facts and numbers of the superstar.

1. First Indian to sign for a European club

Bhaichung Bhutia
Bhaichung Bhutia / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Bhutia travelled to Manchester to play for Bury on 30th September 1999, where he became only the second Indian football player to play professionally in Europe after Mohammad Salim.

Impressed by him, the club offered the striker a three-year contract with the player thereby becoming the first Indian footballer to sign for a European club.

While a recurring knee injury affected his time with them, he did still manage to score eight goals for the club.

2. Only Indian to be inducted in Asian Hall of Fame

Bhaichung Bhutia
Entertainment India 2011 / Prodip Guha/GettyImages

The Sikkimese Sniper was among one of the 10 inaugural inductees in the Asian Football Hall of Fame in 2014, thereby becoming the first Indian footballer to be bestowed with the honour.

3. Played for seven clubs during his career

India's Bhaichung Bhutia celebrates the
India's Bhaichung Bhutia celebrates the / PRAKASH SINGH/GettyImages

Bhutia joined East Bengal at the age of 16 in 1993 and since then went on to play for seven clubs during his storied career, of which three were foreign clubs.

Other than Bury, the striker also had spells with Malaysian sides, Perak F.A and Selangor MK Land.

4. Was India's second youngest goalscorer

Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia
Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia / AAMIR QURESHI/GettyImages

The 45-year-old is India's second youngest international goal scorer after Jerry Zirsanga when he scored his first goal against Uzbekistan in the 1995 Nehru Cup at the age of 18 years and 90 days.

He scored 26 international goals during his career.

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