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Baichung Bhutia

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Baichung Bhutia (born December 15, 1976 in Tinkitam) is a football player from India. He is known by his fans as the torchbearer of Indian Football in the international arena.

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Baichung Bhutia at East Bengal club

He won an SAI Scholarship at age eleven to attend the Tashi Namgyal Academy in Gangtok. He went on to play for several school and local clubs in his home state of Sikkim. A stellar performance at the 1992 Subroto Cup brought him to the notice of the football establishment.

In 1993, at the age of sixteen, he left school to join the professional East Bengal Club in Calcutta. In 1995, he moved to JCT Mills, Phagwara, which went on to win the India National Football League that year. Bhutia was a top scorer in the league, and was chosen to play in the Nehru Cup. He was named "1996 Indian Player of the Year", and has won numerous other awards.

In 1997 he returned to East Bengal, and became team captain in the 1998-99 season.

In 1999 he travelled overseas to play for the Bury Football Club in Manchester, England, improving his conditioning and strategy.

In 2002 he returned to India and played for the Mohun Bagan AC for a year before returning again to the East Bengal Club, and helping them to win the Asean Cup Club Championship. He also signed up to play for Perak FC, the Malaysian championship club, from August to October of 2003. He signed an endorsement deal with Adidas India Marketing Pvt. Ltd in November of 2003.

Baichung Bhutia married his longtime girlfriend Madhuri Tipnis on December 27, 2004 in his native village of Tinkitam in South Sikkim.

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