Chuni Goswami was irreplaceable, I lost a dear friend: Tulsidas Balaram

KOLKATA: His dancing feet could make a soccer talk. But the legendary Subimal 'Chuni' Goswami, who last breathed on Thursday night, would agree that he was incomplete without his decorated teammates in India. PK Banerjee and Tulsidas Balaram .

A little over one month after PK Banerjee passed away, Goswami, captain of the 1962 Asian Games football gold medal winning India team, also left for heavenly abode, ending an era of Indian football. Bhaichung Bhutia called it the disappearance of Indian football The two largest icons.

Naturally the only living member of India's famous trio who scored nine of India's 11 goals on the way to gold from the Asian Games in Jakarta, Balaram was distraught after receiving the news.

I was in shock. When I received the information, I was unable to speak to anyone for hours. Tears rolled down my eyes, Balaram told IANS on Friday.

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India were victorious in 12 of the 16 matches PK-Chuni-Balaram were part of, between 1958 and 1962. The trio netted 20 of India's 36 goals in that period.

"We played together for Bengal and India also for so many years. And we had a very good relationship. We used to respect each other," said the 83-year old, also regarded as one of India's greatest strikers.

Goswami played all his life for Mohun Bagan, starting as an eight year old in 1946 and retiring in 1968. He won the Durand Cup for three seasons in a row, from 1963, and scored a remarkable 200 goals in a green and maroon shirt. Balaram, on the other hand, was the darling of East Bengal.

Therefore, there was talk of rivalry between Goswami and Balaram, which the latter rubbished.

We were great companions. People used to say that we had great rivalry, but we never had rivalry, we were very good friends.

Balaram also said the hype around PK-Chuni-Balaram was too much and that players like Arun ghosh and goalkeeper Peter Thangaraj deserved equal credit.

"Whenever people talk about football, they talk about PK-Chuni-Balaram. See a team is made up of 11 players. Not three players. The three people were taking the name too much. We had Arun ghosh , Thangaraj all of them contributed equally. Why always PK-Chuni-Balaram? We all contributed for the country," he pointed.

Remembering Chuni, Balaram recalled Indian football 's golden moments starting from the 1960 Rome Olympics where they were in a group which had sides like Hungary, France and Peru.

Balaram scored two goals, one each in the matches against Hungary and Peru as India lost but they bravely held France to a draw.

"I lost a great friend. Football lost a great footballer and the country also lost a great footballer. 1960 Rome Olympics, we played top-class football against Hungary, France, Peru and all. We played terrific football. It came out in the Rome paper also...'another power which is coming in football is India'.

"This is the reputation we had created and in 1962 we won the gold medal. What more we can give for the country. He (Chuni) was so good, he was an automatic choice in the Indian team. Nobody was there to substitute him. Others were like ' Chuni Goswami it is there we will not have a chance.

Balaram signed off, saying he has lost PK Banerjee and Goswami and it is his turn now to bid-adieu.