India captain Baichung Bhutia says he will refuse to let injuries dictate when he ends his career and intends to still be playing when the AFC Asian Cup goes to Australia in 2015.
The 34-year-old striker made his belated comeback from injury as a 78th-minute substitute in India's 4-1 Group C loss to Korea Republic yesterday, having been out of action since September with a calf problem.
India coach Bob Houghton praised his impact on the game and Bhutia, the country's record goalscorer, said he was not ready to turn his back on the national side just yet.
"I don't want to retire injured," Bhutia told Indian media, in comments reported on the Asian Football Confederation website. "I will take a break for two to three months and see if I can recover fully from my injury and after that I will decide. I think I will recover in two or three months and then I will continue playing."
Houghton has compared Bhutia to Indian cricket great Sachin Tendulkar for his contribution to the national cause and the East Bengal Club striker said he was delighted to have finally made his Asian Cup debut.
"I consulted the Australian team doctor and other local doctors here. Every two days blood clots are drained from my calf and I took painkillers," he said. "I did not feel any discomfort in the 15 minutes I played. I am happy that I played in the Asian Cup.
"It is the biggest stage of football in Asia. For every Asian player, the World Cup and Asian Cup are the biggest tournaments. I am happy to have played in the Asian Cup. I will play in the next Asian Cup (in 2015)."