Philem Dipak Singh
Doha, Jan 16 (PTI) The influence of iconic cricketerSachin Tendulkar transcends any sport in India and nationalfootball captain Bhaichung Bhutia says he draws inspirationfrom him to bring laurels for the country.
India coach Bob Houghton had compared Bhutia withTendulkar for the influence both the players have in theirrespective national teams.
Bhutia described Tendulkar as the legendary sporstspersonwhose influence goes much beyond cricket.
"I have met him once or twice and obviously he is asporting legend. He is the sole example of a role modelsportsperson in India. He inspires a senior footballer like meto bring laurels for the country," Bhutia told PTI after theirtraining session ahead of India''s last group match againstSouth Korea in the Asian Cup here.
Bhutia said it was difficult to compare between afootballer and cricketer in India but said the amount of timethey have played for the country and the service they haverendered could be similar.
"Sachin is different from me. Football is totallydifferent from cricket. The amount of time we two have playedfor the country and the amount of the service we two havegiven could be compared," he said.
"Me, Leander Paes, Sachin, Dhanraj Pillay, we played forthe country for quite long and can be compared in that sense.
But football is completely different from cricket," he added.
Houghton had told a press conference before India''ssecond group match against Bahrain on Friday that Bhutia hasan influence on the national football side just like Tendulkarhas on the cricket team.
"The best cricketer in the world is in India. Tendulkaris a very fine role model, a fine person. Comparison withBhaichung is similar. They are of the same age, they keepgoing. Bhutia is a major influence on the team on and off thefield. He is a leader," Houghton had said.
Bhutia was the first Indian to play professional footballin Europe in the post-independence era when he spent threeyears with English Championships side Bury FC between 1999 and2002.
34-year-old Bhaichung has played 104 internationalmatches for India since 1995 and he is the record goalscorerfor the country.
Tendulkar, 37, is the leading runs scorer and centurymaker in both Test and one-day international cricket.
Tendulkar, who made his debut in 1989 at an age of 16, iswidely considered as the greatest batsman of the modern era.