Kolkata: Laid low by injuries in recent months, India captain Bhaichung Bhutia on Monday quashed talk of any imminent retirement and said he would return next season after taking a three-month break and if he decides to quit, he would do it from East Bengal.
Talking to reporters at East Bengal club, the Sikkimese sniper said he came to be known as a footballer from East Bengal, so he would like to call it quits donning the red-and-gold jersey.
“I’m born in Sikkim, but I started my football life here in East Bengal. I got to be known as a footballer from East Bengal. It’s my mother club. East Bengal gave me a footballing life. That’s the reality and that is never going to change.
“I’ve got all my trophies for East Bengal be it Durand Cup, Federation Cup or whatever. I’m so proud and honoured to be a part of them,” he said in an emotional tone.
“It’s true I played for different clubs, but those were a few challenges that I took. I will definitely retire from East Bengal, even as I have my own club United Sikim. I started from here and I want to end here,” the 34-year-old said.
“The only regret I will have that I’ve officially never led the club. May be my son when he grows up will don the captain’s band,” he said in a lighter vein.
Asked about his recent comment that he was eyeing the Asian Cup (in Australia in 2015), Bhutia said the comment was made in jest.
“Maybe I will play on crutches then... It’s a long way to go. Yes, I may play if there’s an Asian Cup held for the disabled... I had said that on a lighter note. Realistically, I don’t see it happening,” Bhutia said.
Giving an update on his injury and health, he said: “I’m taking a complete rest for two months. Definitely, I’m not playing for any clubs. It does not make sense. I will look into it the next season.”
“I consulted the Australian team doctor and other local doctors in Doha. Every two days blood clots are drained from my calf and I took painkillers.”
Bhutia, who was out of action since September with a calf muscle problem, made a comeback as an 80th-minute substitute in India’s 1-4 loss to South Korea in the group C Asian Cup match.
The Indian captain also lashed out at his critics and said it was out of jealousy some former footballers made wrong allegations against him and the team.
“I don’t want to say whether somebody is good or bad. There are a lot of ex-footballers who are helping for the cause of the game. I can’t club all the ex-footballers together just because there are two or three who are pointing fingers at me. That’s their viewpoint. Maybe expressed out of jealousy,” Bhutia said.