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Football in India is growing: Bhutia

Last updated on: February 6, 2012 16:10 IST

'The biggest moment would be winning the AFC Challenge Cup'



Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia, who played his farewell match last month, believes that football has a bright future in the country.

"Football in India is growing for sure and it is definitely going to grow further. I am sure the opportunities and the facilities will be much better. They need to have the belief that being in India as well they can go on to play for India and take the Indian football team to the next level," he said.

Bhaichung's last match was an exhibition match against German club Bayern Munich in New Delhi, where he led the Indian team for the last time.

"The biggest moment would be winning the AFC Challenge Cup and qualifying for the Asia Cup," he said reflecting on his career.

His advice for India's young footballers is clear: "You can't play football because you want to be Messi, Maradona or Ronaldo, but you got to love the game."


'It was very easy playing with him'

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India's current footballing sensation Sunil Chhetri is generous in his praise of Bhutia.

"It was very easy playing with him as he always makes one comfortable. It's his nature to encourage everybody and I was no exception. And we gelled well off the field too. Our mentalities matched, we loved to hang out together, dine together. For any advice, I just pick up my mobile and dial him. The telepathy just grew up.

That's what makes him great," he said.

Like all Indian football fans, even Chhetri is disappointed that he will not get to see Bhutia on the field again.

"It's disappointing. He has always been my idol and the last time we played together in the Asian Cup against South Korea, I always felt we would be playing together again for the National Team."

Asked what he had learnt from Bhutia, Chhetri replied: "It's an endless list. But apart from the technical aspects, I have also learnt a lot off the field. The manner he has carried himself has been a lesson for me. The way he looks at and thinks about the game has accelerated my maturity as a player. I owe a lot to him. Apart from Bhaichung, Rennedy Singh has also gone out of the way to help me evolve as a footballer.

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