New Delhi: Former India captain and the poster boy of Indian football for the major part of the last two decades, Baichung Bhutia is set to announce his international retirement on Wednesday bringing to an end an illustrious 16-year career.
According to sources, the 34-year-old Bhaichung, known as the 'Sikkimese Sniper' for his shooting skills, will announce his walk into international football sunset during a press conference at the AIFF Headquarters.
Speculation has been rife on the imminent retirement of the talismanic striker, who pulled out of India Under-23 side's tour of England where they will play against Pakistan and England Under-23 next month.
He has been struggling with injury in the past one year and could only play for just 15 minutes in the Asian Cup in Qatar in January, the most prestigious event India has ever taken part in the last 27 years.
He was dropped from the Indian squad selected for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and the preparatory matches, a move which he took into his strides but to complain for not showing the courtsey of at least informing him of that.
Bhaichung, however, is likely to continue to play for his club United Sikkim FC which he founded with an aim to make it become a top side in the country. The club failed to qualify for the I-League this season but he will be keen to take the side to the Federation Cup main round, the qualifiers of which will begin on September 8.
Bhaichung had captained India for more than 10 years and has scored 43 international goals, more than any other footballer of the country. He is also the only Indian and one among few international players to have played more than 100 matches for his country.
Under him, India won the South Asian Football Federation Championships thrice, two Nehru Cup titles (in 2007 and 2009) and the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup which gave India the right to play in the Asian Cup this year for the first time after 1984.
First Published: Sunday, August 21, 2011, 20:22