Baichung Bhutia (born 15 December 1976) is an Indian footballer. He is considered to be the torchbearer of Indian football in the international arena.Currently the captain of the Indian team, he plays for East Bengal Club. He is often nicknamed theSikkimese Sniper because of his shooting skills in football. Three-time Indian Player of the Year I. M. Vijayan described Bhutia as “God’s gift to Indian football”.

Bhutia has had four spells at I-League football team East Bengal Club, the club where he started his career. When he signed up to play for the English club Bury in 1999 he became the first Indian footballer to play professional football in Europe. Afterwards he had a short loanspell at the Malaysian football club Perak FA. As well as this he has played for JCT Mills, which won the league once during his tenure; and Mohun Bagan, which failed to win the league once during his two spells, in his native India. His international footballing honours include winning the Nehru Cup, LG Cup, South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship (three times) and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup. He is also India’s mostcapped player, and in the 2009 Nehru Cup he received his 100th international cap.

Off the field, Bhutia is known for winning the reality television programme Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, which caused much controversy with his then-club Mohun Bagan, and for being the first Indian athlete to boycott the Olympic torch relay in support of the Tibetan independence movement. Bhutia, who has a football stadium named after him in honour of his contribution to Indian football, has also won many awards such as the Arjuna Award and the Padma Shri.

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