Bhaichung Bhutia is a former Indian National Footballer. He represented India internationally for 16 long years and achieved tremendous accolade. Let’s take a closer look at his personal and professional life.
Bhaichung Bhutia or famously known as Sikkimese Sniper was born on 15 December 1976 at Tinkitam, Sikkim, India. He is 42 years old and as fit as a teenager, and is often seen nutmegging players on his Instagram posts. He represented India in football internationally and wore the blue jersey for 16 years before retiring in 2011. The centre-forward is known for piercing the net with his shots, hence the name Sikkimese Sniper.
Bhutia stands 5′ 8″ (173 cm) tall and weighs approximately 67 Kg (150 lbs). His chest measures 42 inches, waist 32 inches, and biceps 15 inches. He has black hair and black eyes.
Education & Career
He was born and raised in Sikkim. He studied at Saint Xaviers School, Pakyong, East Sikkim. He always had a love for football. At the age of 14, he joined the Boys Club in Gangtok where his uncle Karma Bhutia was the chief coach. Bhutia received football training at Sikkim’s Tashi Namgyal Academy before a stint at SAI Gangtok. He was given the best player in the 1992 Subroto Cup. Former Indian goalkeeper, Bhaskar Ganguly, noticed his talent and helped him make the transition to Calcutta football.
At the age of 16, he signed for East Bengal FC, his first professional club. In the summer of 1999, he became the second Indian player after Mohammed Salim to play in a European Club as he was signed by English third division outfit, Bury FC.
On 15 April 2000, he became a first Asian Player to score a goal in English professional game. He also captained India and carried off the LG Cup in Vietnam in 2002, South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championships thrice, two Nehru Cup titles (in 2007 and 2009) and the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup which assured them a place in the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar. Inivalappil Mani Vijayan (or I.M. Vijayan) three-time Indian Player of the Year, described Bhutia as,
God’s gift to Indian football.
On 24 August 2011, he announced retirement from international football. A farewell match was organised for him against Bayern Munich in 2012.
He was named as the interim manager of United Sikkim on 13 November 2012. On 12 February 2015, he returned to East Bengal for the final time on a half-season contract, after which he would retire from professional football. In January 2018, he was appointed as the manager of Sikkim. He also has football schools in Delhi in partnership with Carlos Queiroz and Nike.
He was born to Dorji Dorma, his father and Sonam Topden, his mother. He grew up with two elder brothers, Bom Bom Bhutia, Chewang Bhutia and an elder sister, Cali. On 30 December 2004, he got married to Madhuri Tipnis, a hotel professional.
The couple was blessed with two daughters, Samara Dechen Bhutia and Keisha Dolkar Bhutia, and a son, Ugen Kalzang Bhutia.
In 2015, Bhaichung and Madhuri divorced each other after 11 years of marriage.
- In the 1996-97 season, playing for the JCT FC, Bhutia was the top goal-scorer.
- In 1996, he was named Indian Player of the Year.
- In 1997, playing for East Bengal FC, Bhutia scored his first hat-trick against Mohun Bagan.
- Playing for East Bengal in the 2005-06 season, he was awarded the “Player of the National Football League” by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
- Arjuna Award for Football (1998)
- Padma Shri (2008)
- Banga Bhushan (2014)
Religion & Politics
He comes from a Buddhist background, but he doesn’t believe in any religion and is, in fact, an atheist. He joined Trinamool Congress and also contested in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections, which he lost, from the Darjeeling constituency. In 2018, he formed his party, “Hamro Sikkim Party,” after the break up with Trinamool Congress.
- He is a big fan of Arsenal and Barcelona football clubs.
- His favourite football players are Thierry Henry, Lionel Messi, and Ronaldinho.
- Bhaichung is a non-vegetarian and a non-smoker.
- He likes to play basketball and dance in his leisure time.
- In 2008, Bhutia was solicited to run with the Olympic torch in India, but he refused to carry the torch to show support for the Tibetan independence movement. Bhutia said
I sympathize with the Tibetan cause. I’m against violence, but I thought I should stand by the Tibetan people in their fight.
He was the first Indian player to refuse to carry the Olympic torch.
- Bhutia took part and won in the dance reality show, “Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa,” in 2009.
- In 2009, Bhutia had a fall-out with Mohun Bagan. On 18 May 2009, Bhutia announced that he would quit Mohun Bagan, due to the questioning of his footballing commitment by the club’s officials. He was suspended for the next six month in 2009 by Mohun Bagan. Bhutia was quoted saying
It is just a ploy to keep me at Mohun Bagan for another season. But I will not play for them anymore.
- In 2011, Bhutia was trapped in the Sikkim earthquake. Although he was not injured, his United Sikkim offices were destroyed. Later he was accompanied by several Bollywood actors like Neha Dhupia and Rahul Bose to raise money for earthquake victims.
Assets & Net Worth
He owns movable assets worth more than ₹3.88 crore including jewellery, an Audi car, bank balance and investments.