New Delhi: Bhaichung Bhutia, on Wednesday, officially announced his retirement from international football and was left to live with the regret that India could not qualify for the World Cup, report said.
Bhutia said in a news conference, at the All India football Federation (AIFF) headquarters “I have spent fantastic 16 years with the national team, 11 of them as the captain… Donning the national jersey was a great honour and an unforgettable experience. Now, the time has come to bring my association with the national team to an end.”
Bhutia added that “Not being able to play the World Cup remains my only regret. Like millions of footballers from across the globe, I too dreamt of playing it at the World Cup, but could not do so. I only hope India play the World Cup one day. I would be there to cheer the boys.”
Though Bhutia made it clear that he would continue playing club football for Sikkim United, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das said that he hoped the former India captain would use his vast experience in guiding the federation in developing its policies.
On Wednesday, India went down to 158 in the FIFA rankings, although Bhutia felt the Indian football was progressing.
Although several former players from across the country praised Bhutia for his contribution to the game, Dronacharya awardee coach Syed Nayeemuddin alleged that the striker was instrumental following India’s defeat against Yemen, in the World Cup qualifiers, in 2006.