As India take on Bayern Munich which boasts of the likes of Philipp Lahm, Franck Ribery, Mario Gomez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Arjen Robben amongst others, all eyes stay focused on Bhaichung Bhutia. Ahead of his Farewell Match, Bhaichung spoke at length to on the significance of the forthcoming match, his illustrious career and much more. Excerpts:
What does this match mean to you?
It’s a worldwide trend for most players to retire after a competitive tournament. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that opportunity. But having a Farewell Match organised — that too against Bayern Munich is a huge honour for me.
This will be the last match you would be putting on the National Jersey. What’s the feeling?
Frankly speaking I don’t know how to express myself. It’s a very emotional moment for me. I enjoyed my 16 years of career with the National Team. Obviously it feels good to be back for one last time.
Sum up your long and illustrious career.
It’s being a great learning process with lots of ups and downs. I have enjoyed every moment and have no regrets. The good moments added to the confidence while the downs in life taught me lessons to go that extra pace. I have always stayed committed to the National Team and will carry the memories.
Most of the players have grown up idolising you. What do have to say to them?
It’s a great opportunity for them not only to play with me but against Superstars of World Football. I think Bayern Munich will inspire them and help them learn as much as possible.
Do you think matches like these would benefit Indian Football?
Such matches would definitely generate lot of interest among the younger generation. It gives an opportunity for all to watch Great Players, that too at your own courtyard. But it’s high time the clubs became professional and started their own Youth Development Programme.
What’s your message for your fans?
I need to thank all for their support. They have always stood by me and have been patient. The affection which I received over the years has been a cherished one. A big Thank You to all once again.