The stalwarts respect PK and Chuni as East Bengal goes virtual to remember them
KOLKATA: Subhas Bhowmick believes that Indian football will never have characters like Chuni Goswami and Pradip Kumar Banerjee. Veteran Arun Ghosh, a contemporary of the duo, recalled their playing styles. Shyam Thapa reflects on his development days as a footballer in the shadow of the two legends.
It was yesterday once again, but in a virtual world, as the East Bengal club held a commemorative meeting of the legendary PK and Chuni, who died 40 days apart in the context of a national blockade to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Chuni Goswami was the greatest - I repeat the greatest - sportsperson of India. I had seen him play hockey. Had he been more serious with the tennis racquet, he could have also represented India in the Davis Cup. Pradip da, on the other hand, was my karma guru. He was everything as far as my life as a footballer and coach is concerned, said former India international and renowned coach Bhowmick on a Facebook chat, organized by East Bengal on Saturday.
After hanging up your soccer boots like Mohun Bagan A player in 1968, Chuni switched his focus to cricket where he led Bengal to the Ranji Trophy final in the 1971-72 season. He is said to have refused to put on his soccer jersey for an exhibition match even at the request of Sheik Mujibur Rahman when Bangladesh gained independence in 1971. However, Bhowmick recalled an incident when Chuni appeared at an exhibition match, organized by former Congress leader Santosh Mohan Deb at Silchar in 1998, where they both scored one goal each.
If Pradip da was one for the masses, Chuni da became a niche. He proved that by playing soccer, you could lead a high social life. It is unfortunate that when these two passed away, our prime minister did not even mention his name anywhere, Bhowmick noted.
During their time, they were the quintessential crowd shooter. Thapa, who like Bhowmick, had a chance to play against the duo in the late 1960s, mourned his death at such an unusual time. Pradip da was my guru, while Chuni da was an extraordinary personality. I was fortunate to pay my last respect to Pradip da (on March 20), but the current situation did not allow me to do the same when Chuni da left us. for another world (April 30), Thapa said.
Former India defender Arun Ghosh, who was part of the gold-winning team at the 1962 Asian Games together with the two, recalled his playing days with them. Pradip da's ball control and shooting power were exceptional, while Chuni was an artist with the ball. Such was his quality that he could also have played for India in test cricket, Ghosh said.
Bhaichung's interaction with Chuni on a football field was limited but the former India captain did flourish under PK's management, still holding the record of scoring the first hat-trick in a derby when East Bengal demolished Amal Datta's Mohun Bagan in the 1997 federation Cup semifinal.
Recalling that incident, Bhaichung said: Pradip da's pressure management was exemplary. He had a rare ability to make people around him happy. There is much to learn from him.
A one-club wonder, Chuni committed himself to Mohun Bagan throughout his football career, having played for them from 1954 to 1968. However, there is a story that then East Bengal general secretary J.C. Guha tried to lure him to the red-and-golds side by offering him a Fiat car, but it yielded no result.
PK, on the other hand, was an integral part of Eastern Railway's football team, which broke the duopoly of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan by winning the Calcutta Football League in 1958.
However, his legend will live on Big Two and beyond.