New Delhi: Former India captain and the poster boy of Indian football for the major part of the last two decades, Baichung Bhutia is set to announce his international retirement on Wednesday bringing to an end an illustrious 16-year career.

According to reliable sources, the 34-year-old Baichung, known as the 'Sikkimese Sniper' for his shooting skills, will announce his walk into international football sunset during a press conference at the AIFF Headquarters.

Speculation has been rife on the imminent retirement of the talismanic striker, who pulled out of India Under-23 side's tour of England where they will play against Pakistan and England Under-23 next month.

He has been struggling with injury in the past one year and could only play for just 15 minutes in the Asian Cup in Qatar in January, the most prestigious event India has ever taken part in the last 27 years.

He was dropped from the Indian squad selected for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and the preparatory matches, a move which he took into his strides but to complain for not showing the courtsey of at least informing him of that.

Baichung, however, is likely to continue to play for his club United Sikkim FC which he founded with an aim to make it become a top side in the country. The club failed to qualify for the I-League this season but he will be keen to take the side to the Federation Cup main round, the qualifiers of which will begin on September 8.

Baichung had captained India for more than 10 years and has scored 43 international goals, more than any other footballer of the country. He is also the only Indian and one among few international players to have played more then 100 matches for his country.

Under him, India won the South Asian Football Federation Championships thrice, two Nehru Cup titles (in 2007 and 2009) and the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup which gave India the right to play in the Asian Cup this year for the first time after 1984.

The most recognisable face of Indian football, Baichung has been decorated with Arjuna Award and Padma Shri.

Born on December 15, 1976 at Namchi, the five feet eight inch Baichung mede his international debut against Uzbekistan in 1995 and he went onto play more than 100 international matches. He reached the milestone during the 2009 Nehru Cup.

He was on the verge of international retirement in 2006 after India had a string of poor shows under coach Syed Nayeemuddin with whom he had serious differences but only to change minds on the plea of then AIFF president Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi and new coach Bob Houghton.

Baichung first came to the forefront at the 1992 Subroto Cup in New Delhi where he played for SAI Centre Gangtok. Next year, he was signed on by Kolkata giants East Bengal after his showings in the Subroto Cup and for the National Under-16 team in the Asian Under-16 Cup Qualifiers.

In 1995, Baichung, along with a host of other Indian top stars, signed up for JCT Mills of Phagwara and had two very successful seasons with them, among other things winning the first-ever National Football League title, being also the league's top scorer.

In 1997, Baichung returned to East Bengal. By this time he had become one of India's top players and in the 1998-99 season he was East Bengal captain, one of the youngest ever at 21.

After unsuccessful trials with English Premiership side Aston Villa and Championship clubs Fulham FC and West Bromwich Albion, Bhaichung finally signed for Division Two club Bury FC in 1999 to become the first Indian to play in Europe. He was with Bury FC for three years till 2002.

On his return from England, he joined Mohun Bagan but next year, he to East Bengal.

(Agencies)