|August 11, 1999||
Bhutia set to join Bury of England
Indian football sensation Baichung Bhutia is all set to to sign a three-year contract with Bury of the English second division. The 22-year-old striker, who has had spells on trial at Aston Villa and West Brom, has impressed Bury manager Neil Warnock.
''Baichung would be a superb signing for us,'' said Warnock. ''He's very sharp and comes to life in the 18-yard box. He wants an English club to put himself on the stage, so we are hoping a deal could be good for both parties.''
One possible problem, though, is that it could take a month for the player's work permit to come through. It could take four to six weeks before a work permit comes through for Bhutia but as an established international there should be no problem in him acquiring one.
"Bhaichung is an intelligent player. He picks up things quickly. Give him (between) three and six months, then watch him really go,'' said Warnock, in a statement.
Within a few days of arrival at Bury for trial, the Indian footballer made his mark with a hat-trick in a friendly match and went on to impress with his skills, the statement said.
Said P C Raj Purohit, Bhaichung's NRI agent: "Hopefully, this (the contract) will help promote Indian football interests overseas. It is a situation we intend to build upon with other developments in the pipeline.''
Bhutia is already is a national hero in India and as the Bury Times went to press, he was at Gigg Lane in contractual talks with the Bury boss.
Dubbed "The Star of Asia" by the subcontinent's football federation for his spectacular goalscoring exploits, Bhutia has bagged 21 goals in 31 internationals for India and could be the first Indian to play in the English League.
A full international since 1995, he became the youngest Indian player to score a goal for his country, with the match-winner against Uzbekistan in the Nehru Cup competition of that year. He spent two weeks on trial at Aston Villa in March but returned home after failing to impress John Gregory.
However, he admits that a move to the Premiership so soon might have been a little too ambitious."I didn't really have time to prepare enough when I went to Aston Villa," he said. "I just came over to learn and gain some experience of the English game. I didn't really expect to be taken on."
But this time it's different and Bhutia is confident he can establish himself in the English game - hopefully with the Shakers.
"I'm very impressed with the set-up at Bury," he added. "I know how high the standard of football is in this country and with the training I will receive here I am sure I can improve my game," the Indian striker said.
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