Former Indian football captain IM Vijayan has termed injury-prone Baichung Bhutia’s plan to hang up his boots as “timely”, adding that Bhutia should now turn his eyes to administration since he has a lot to offer the sport.
“Bhutia might be coaching United Sikkim Club but he is destined for far bigger things. He should become a part of the All India Football Federation (AIFFF) and then the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). I really want him to be there at the top and run the game. That really is my dream,” Vijayan told TOI on Tuesday.
“Baijoo (as Vijayan calls Bhutia) called me sometime last week and informed me about the injuries. He wanted to hang up his boots. I kept quiet as I felt retirement should be a personal call,” said the legend, adding: “I came to know him personally when he signed for East Bengal in 1993. He was a precocious talent, a lad in his late teens. He was full of joy and fun and enthusiasm. He loved books, music and films.”
According to Vijayan, even then it was apparent that Bhutia was a rare player. “When we played for India or JCT and for Bengal, I always gave him the leverage to do whatever he wanted. He was sharp, quick, cunning and intelligent. These are the traits of a striker. Right now, India will find it tough to find a player of his calibre. There cannot be a replacement for him, at least for now.
Injuries are a part and parcel of any sportsman’s life, but I felt he (Bhutia) might have been disappointed after the recent injury which prevented him from joining the national team for the UK tour,” Vijayan added.