Indian football legend Pradip Kumar Banerjee dies aged 83
- Legendary footballer and coach PK Banerjee passed away at 12.40 PM IST in Kolkata on 20 March 2020
- His death is a massive loss to the sporting community.
Former Indian national team player and head coach Pradip Kumar Banerjee breathed his last at 12.40 PM on March 20 in Kolkata. Banerjee was on life-support system from March 2, 2020. He had a medical history of Parkinson's disease, dementia and heart problems. He was suffering from respiratory issues and pneumonia which ultimately proved fatal. Banerjee is survived by his two daughters Paula and Purna along with his younger brother, Prasun Banerjee, a sitting Trinamool Congress (TMC) Member of Parliament.
PK Banerjee was born on June 12, 1936 in Moynaguri near Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. He moved to Jamshedpur during the partition. He made his national team debut in 1955 against Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in the 4th Quadrangular Cup in Dhaka, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). He led the tournament goal-scoring charts with 5 goals to his name. He then went on to play for India in three consecutive editions of the Asian Games - the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo, the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, and the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok. He scored in the final against South Korea as India fought against all odds to script a historic 2-1 triumph in Jakarta, Indonesia.
He was part of the Indian team in 1956 Melbourne Olympics and played a pivotal role in the 4-2 victory against Australia in the quarter-finals, after which India eventually finished fourth. He captained the side in the 1960 Rome Olympics and scored the equaliser against France to help India register a 1-1 draw. Banerjee retired from the national team due to injury concerns in 1967.
He made his professional club debut with Bihar in Santosh Trophy in 1952 as a 16-year lanky kid. He then went on to play for Aryan FC for a year, but had a tough time. Things changed for the better, when he got a job in the Indian Railways (Eastern Division) and played his entire domestic career for the departmental side - Eastern Railways. He never played for East Bengal and Mohun Bagan - the two giants of Indian club football.
However he did coach the two Kolkata giants in their prime, making him one of the greatest managers in Indian club football. He won 30 and 23 trophies for East Bengal and Mohun Bagan respectively. He guided East Bengal in defeating Pyongyang City Club (DPR Korea) to win the IFA Shield in 1973 and defeated Dok Ro Gang (DPR Korea) to win the DCM Trophy. He was the head coach of Mohun Bagan when they drew 2-2 with Russian club Ararat in the 1978 IFA Shield Final, which boasted of several World Cup stars playing for them. Banerjee was also the head coach of the Mariners when they held Pele's Cosmos (USA) to a 2-2 draw at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata. He also served as a Technical Director for the Tata Football Academy from 1991-97.
Banerjee also guided the Indian national team to a bronze medal in the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok and the Pesta Sukan Cup in Singapore, 1971. He also served as the Technical Director of the Indian national team from 1999-2000. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1990, Arjuna Award in 1961, FIFA Centennial Order of Merit in 2004. Banerjee is the only footballer from Asia who has been awarded the Fair Play Award.
His passing away is a massive loss to Indian football and the sporting community at large. Tributes started to flow in after his demise from the sporting world.
Published 20 Mar 2020, 16:17 IST